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Thi-ee Remarkable Facts November, 1S60, to February Election, 1861 
South Carolina Secedes, December 26, 1860 Grave Questions in Bor- 
der States Bewildering Uncertainty as to Interest and Duty 
Ambitious Leaders in Cotton States Vague Fear of the Abolition- 
ists Widespread Secession Movement Attitude Toward Slavery 
First Union Speech Knoxville Streets Full of Secessionists No- 
vember 26, Public Meetings Adjourned Without Decisive Vote 
December 8, Secession Kesolutions Defeated, Victory for Union 
Overwhelming Meetings in Other Counties Author Reluctantly 
Assumed Leadership Brovs'nlow's Paper I'lays an Important Part 
Johnson's Part Local Leaders Third Crisis Emancipation 
Browulow's Quarrel with Johnson Alexander Stephens at Mll- 
ledgeville Firing on Sumter Lincoln's Inaugural. 


Born Two Years After Tennessee Became a State Served Under Jack- 
sonAdmitted to Bar, 1S22 Defeated for Congress. 1827 and 1829 
Elected, 1831. Though Anti-Jackson Moved to Greeneville De- 
feated by Blair, 1835 Elector, 1840 Encounter with Felix Grundy 
at Greeneville At Rogersville Next Day In Congress Again, 
1841-43 Second Time, District Changed to Defeat Him Attitude 
in 1861 Siiccess in Jury Causes Peculiarly Emotional Nature. 


Rose Rapidly in Profession in North Carolina Clay Elector in 1844 
In Legislature, Speaker of Lower House- Removed to Knoxville, 
1857 Rank and Characteristics as a Lawyer Believed Union Could 
be Preserved Bitter Speeclies Favored Moderate Measures at 
Greeneville Convention Followed Nelson to Richmond Influence 
of Zebulon Vance Defeated for Confederate Congress by William 
G. Swan Co-operates with Secessionists Arrested at Memphis 
Drifts Back Into Union Ranks 1864, Joins McClellan Movement- 
Attacks Brownlow 1870, Elected to Constitutional Convention 
1872, Call to Organize New I'olitical Party Supports Hayes, 1876 
Appointed U. S. Circuit Judge Summary. 


Member of Congress Lawyer Whig Elector Vehement Speaker- 
Spotless Integrity.' . " ' : ,' - ' ", J , 

R.R.BUTLER . . C<i-,o. 'o. 'f. .'.'<: \".' 77 

Member of Legislature ^livei-' Term'fe^Lleutenant-Colonel Circuit 
Judge Member of CongratSc Fiye TerD(&'. 

ROBERT K. BYRD . , \, J^. yll^^.'-'l',.: 79 

Bold Leader Slaveholder feoi^ ^ in Poanti Obnnty- Farmer Entered 
Into Agreement at Gr?enevHl2 Con\entloil to Raise Troops The 
First Tennessee, Colonel Byrd. 


Born in Kentucky One of First Volunteer Soldiers After Number of 
Engagements, Destroyed Mill at Cumberland Gap Captured Near 
Rogersville, Taken to Libby Prison and Charleston Sheriff of 
Anderson County Mayor of Knoxville Pension Agent Receiver 
Southern Building and Loan Association Natural Leader. 


In Army Personally Popular Actor in Bridge Burning Escaped to 
Kentucky Member of Legislature. 




Great-grandson of John Carter Washington College and Princeton 
Church at Rogersville Whig Interview with Lincoln, Seward, 
McClellan Bridge Burning Member of 3d Knoxville-Greeneville 
Convention Pocahontas Blood. 


Born 1795 A Whig, but Became a Democrat in 1853 Violent Unionist 
Detiant of Confederate Government Wooden Cannon Agreement 
with James W. Gillespie Courier Line Between Kuoxville and 
Chattanooga In Prison Atlanta Escape Died in Xinety-flrst Year. 


Father from Maryland ^lexican War Greeneville Convention Drilled 
Men on the Farms Second Refugee At Cumberland Gap, Chicka- 
mauga, Nashville Internal Revenue Collector at Knoxville Great- 
est Union Soldier. 


Early Settler of Chattanooga Replied to Jefferson Davis Sought 
Safety in Union Army. 


Dickenson a Native of ^Massachusetts Accumulated Fortune Ardent 
Whig Decided in Stand for Union Arrested and Discharged Wil- 
liams' Family Old and Distinguished- Battle of the Horseshoe- 
Opposition to John Williams' Father to Jackson John Williams 
in Legislature Fearless Union Man. 


Born in Hawkins County P^ducated at Fmory and Henry College 
Takes Charge of Whig Rei/ister in 1>;55 Supports John Bell One 
of Three or Four to Oppose Secession- Elected to Legislature in 
1861 Humorous Letter on Fall of Nashville Secretai'y of Knoxville- 
Greeneville Convention Supports General McClellan Opposes Re- 
construction Measures Superintendent Public Instruction- Editorial 
Work Encounter with John Mitchell Controversy with Phelan. 


Attended Washington College Practiced Law in Newport State Sena- 
tor-Difficulty with Mason A Refugee Secretary of State Can- 
didate for U. S. Senate Speech in Defense of State Administration- 
Origin of Term "CaiiJet Bag." 


Born in Sevier County Appearance Before Judge Alexander Read 
Law at Night Encouii.*^^!- w';it''.i 'Ppq'ie -iu'lSgl'-Ccnti-adictory Quali- 
tiesMember of Johns(,i} t!qni'eijtijn Ga.Asar in; ('Jigress. 
''''' < '.''.'>,;'''' 
HORACE MAYNARD . . ....,, .;...;. ...!!.''." 137 

Born in Massachusetts Graduatt ;of 4n'iSTj?Vst'' IVofessor in East Ten- 
nessee University Defeated 'for' CougHess <bv 'Churchwell in 1853 
Elector for State at Largt^ i.h JS5(;-E!fcfeii,tb Congress in 1S57, 1859, 
and 1861- At Disadvantage i.t!mQiJg.'S.ou*l:;e5;nfi^3 Went Into Kentucky 
After August Election, 1861 At;tfnav?v<'fien;nal of the State Twice 
Elected to Congress in the '6(i"s In "l^e.D D^ie'a'rtd for U. S. Senate 
In 1872 Elected to Congress from State at Large In 1874 Defeated 
for Governor by James D. Porter In 1S77 Appointed Minister to 
Turkey Postmaster General Under Haves Defeated for U. S. Sen- 
ate by Howell E. Jackson in ISSl Ability Oratory Personal Char- 
acteristics-Rank as a LawyerEarly Political Experiences Last 


Exponent of Justice and Goodness Arrested Near Athens Provost 
Marshall Raised Union Regiment. 




College Career Physique Influence with Pupils Elected to I^rIs- 
lature in 1S41 Re-elected in 1845 Read Law in Interval Quarter- 
master in Mexican War in 1846 Greeneville Spy In 1857 Defeated 
for Congress In 1861 Aggressive for Union In 1865 Appointed to 
Supreme Court of Tennessee Appointed to Court of Claims In 
1868 Influence Over Andrew Johnson Personality. 


Born in Virginia Educated at Tuscuhim Under Doak Two Years In 
Franklin, Tenn. State Senator in 1833 Elector for State at Large 
in 1848 Defeated by Harris in 1859 Constantly in I'olitics Jury 
Lawyer I'ersonal Characteristics. 


Ills Phenomenal RiS:e at the Bar An Old-line Whig Nelson and 
Haynes Canvass of 155"^ First Speech In Congress, December, 18.59 
Nelson and .Tohnsou in Tennessee, Spring of 1861 Re-elected to 
U. S. Congress Captured and Taken to Richmond Letter Pub- 
lished on Return to His Home Attitude Toward liincoln's Procla- 
mation of Emancipation Attitude in 1S7J. 


Active in Influence for Undivided Country Father Prominent- 
Speaker of Senate and Governor Later Years Passed lu Retirement. 


Early Struggles Clerk of Circuit Court Happy Marriage A Demo- 
cratDelegate to Knoxville Convention Daring Operation Led His 
Regiment at Fishing Creek In Battle at Murfreesboro- Hot-headed 
A. L. Spears, His Son, a Brave Officer in Union Army A Lawyer. 


Family Among Settlers of Jamestown Taught by Parents Leader 
in Cumberland Plateau Defeated Twice for I^egislature- Activity 
in Behalf of Inion Raised a Regiment Wounded and Taken Pris- 
onerTortured and Shot The Mountain Man 'Tinker Dave." 


Earnest Friend of Union- His Father in U. S. Navy Family Promi- 
nent in Social and Business Affairs Aided Union Guides Strong 
Family Dates in United States from 1630. 


Grandfather Owned Immense Estates Graduated at Washington Col- 
lege and Princeton Became a Minister Distinguished Appearance 
Rare Gifts Raised Funds for Relief of Destitute People of East 
Tennessee Aided by Rev. Dr. T. W. Humes Elector, 1S60. 


Studied I>aw State Senate Three Terms Attorney General Active in 
Conciliation Confined at Tuscaloosa. 


Lawyer Chancellor Circuit Judge i[ind Clear and Quick. 


Born in Abingdon- Defeated for Congress in 18.53- In 1855 in Partner- 
ship with Author Delegate to State Convention in 1861 Favorite 
with Union People Left Tennessee In 1861- Took I'art in Guberna- 
torial Canvass in Ohio in 1863 Appointed U. S. Judge In 1864 
Crowded Docket Sympathizes with Those Lately Opposed U. S. vs. 
Moses Gamble Never Severe. 





Born and Lived in Anderson County Circuit Judge Exceptional Land 
Lawyer Arrested Captain of Tennessee Artillery Good Financier. 


Attracted Great Interest Democratic District Temple Youn??, Un- 
known, Inexperienced Johnson's Position Impregnable, but Record 
Vulnerable First Debate, July 11 Lively Contentions Disaffection 
Toward Johnson- Temple's Letter to W. G. Brownlow Temple Had 
Good Voice Ardor, Enthusiasm Johnson Approaches Competitor to 
Withdraw Fifteen Appointments Less Than Three Weeks' Cam- 
paignNo Personalities Notice in Brownlow's Paper Enthusiasm 
Over Temple at Washington College Among His Fellow-Students 
Political Conditions Temple Fought Johnson with His Own Weapons 
Whig Leaders Stood Aloof from Temple Time Too Short to Over- 
come Inertia of the Whigs They Were Too Indifferent to Go to 
Polls Johnson's Majoritv 314 In the County Canvassed Thoroughly 
by Temple His Vote Largest Ever Given a Whig Temple Changed 
Residence to Avoid Politics. 


Born in North Carolina in 1S09 Removes to Tennessee in 1S13 Early 
Education Extensive Reader Studied Law Elected to Legislature, 
1835 In Congress, 1839 Powerful Debater Opinions as to His Abil- 
ity as an Orator Runs Against Johnson for Governorship in 1855 
Contrast of Their Characters Defeated by Johnson In Retirement 
on His Farm A Union Man Until Sumter Then a Secessionist- 
Elected to Confederate Congress Loses All His Property Through 
Failure of Confederacy Died in 186G. 


Jones' Limited Education In Legislature. 1839 Nominated for Gov- 
ernor bv Whigs in 1841 at Age of Thirty-two His Personality His 
Opponent, Polk, Highlv Educated and an Experienced Politician- 
Polk Not a Great Orator Jones Not a Buffoon- His Debates with 
Polk Polk's Personality Polk's Secret Trip to East Tennessee- 
Discovered bv Jones Jones' Stinging Reproaches Jones' Election- 
Jones in United States Senate, 1851- Votes to Repeal Missouri Com- 
promiseBecomes a Democrat Polk's Nomination for Presidency A 
Strict Party Man His Election. 



Andrew Jackson General Winfleld Scott James K. Polk Bailie Pey- 
ton-Felix Grundv John J. Crittenden William C. Preston John 
C. Calhoun President Tavlor Henry Clay General Brooks Joseph 
E. Johnston General Hardee General Garland Albert Sidney John- 
stonGeneral Harney General Sam Houston. 

Chapter I 271 

Brownlow a Native of Virginia A Mechanic Methodist Preacher- 
Established Tennessee Whig at Elizabethton, 1838- In 1839 Removed 
to Jonesboro, Paper Taking Name Jouesboro Wliig and Independent 
Editorial Contest Between Haynes and Brownlow 1849, Removed 
Family and Paper to Knoxville Bitter Quarrel with Knoxville 
Register Contioversv with John H. Crozler, William and James 
Williams, and William G. Swan In ISGO Circulation of Whtg 14,000 
Personal Characteristics Public Spirit As a Speaker Influence 
in 1861. 

Chapter II 287 

Fidelity to Friends Newspaper Warfare with George D. Prentice- 
Attitude Toward Slavery IF/tii? of April 20, 1861 After Battle of 
Bull Run Belief in Long Continuance of War North Had No 
Conception of Spirit of War in South North and South Not Alien 




Races The Covenanter The Moirimac The Dutch, Irish, and Ger- 
man Contingent Not Surprising Southern Soldiers Won First Vic- 
toriesThe Puritan Small Farmer. 

Chapter III 303 

Discontinued Publication of Paper. October 24, 1861 Flight of Union 
Men to Kentucky Thornburg and I'erez Dickinson Arrested Brown- 
low Refuses to Take Oath Abortive Attempt to Escape Into Ken- 
tucky Bridge-burning, November S, 1S61 Brownlow Escapes to 
Mountain Crittenden Offers Passport Alter Letter from Benjamin 
Brownlow Arrested March 3, 18G2. Permitted to Start for Nashville- 
Flag of Truce Brownlow Meets Johnson at Capitol. 

Chapter IV 317 

In the North Published Book. May. 1862- Mrs. Brownlow and Mrs. 
Maynard Sent Beyond the Lines Brownlow and Family Return to 
Knoxville, October, 1S63 January 9, 1865, Meeting in Nashville- 
State Constitution Amended Elected Governor Ku-Klux Bond Is- 
suesReconstructive Measures Review of Secession Movement. 

Chapter V 334 

Brownlow Re-elected. 1867- Emerson Etheridge Isham G. Harris 
Brownlow Elected to United States Senate, October, 1867 Johnson 
Arraigns Brownlow The Reply Author's Personal Relations with 

Chapter VI 349 

Brownlow's Popularitv An Editor Rather Than a Party Politician- 
Remarkable Individuality Compliment from Knoxville Beaister 
Press Tributes to Governor Brownlow Memory Place in History. 

Chapter I 357 

Early Youth Apprenticeship in Greenville. S. C Removal to Greene- 
vilie Tenn., Where Tailor Shop Still Stands Elected to Legislature, 
1835 Defeated, 1837 Again Elected, 1839. 

Chapter II 3U9 

Democracy of Greene County .Johnson Elector for State at Large on 
Van Buren Ticket, 1840 Elected State Senator. 1841- Elected to Con- 
gress, 1843 Represented First District for Ten Years Introduced 
Homestead Bill During Second Term Elected Governor of Tennes- 
see, 1853. 

Chapter III 383 

Succeeded Himself as Governor. 1S55 Campaign with Gentry Arraign- 
ment of "Know-Nothing Party." 

Chapter IV 391 

Elected to United States Senate. 1857 In 1860 the Democratic Delegates 
from Tennessee to Charleston Instructed to Vote for Johnson for 
President December 18, 19, Speech in United States Senate in 
Opposition to Secession Spring of 1861, Canvass with Nelson to 
Save the State Ilindman's Proposition to Arrest Johnson at Rogers- 
ville Thwarted by John R. Brannor. President of Railroad Made 
Brigadier General bv Mr. Lincoln and Appointed Military (lovernor 
of Tennessee on Fail of Foit Itoiulsun. IVbriiary, 1862. 

Chapter V 400 

Policy as Military Governor April 12. 1864, Kuoxville-Greeneville Con- 
vention Convened for Third Time Majority Report Aimed al Jobn- 
son "Convention" at Nashville. January, 1865 Noted Oath for Regu- 
lation of Election of Electors McClellan Electors Ask Lincoln to 
Revoke the Oath Lincoln Declined Johnson Takes Oath as Vice- 



President March 4, 1865 Remarkarble Utterances Johnson's Change 
of Views After Lincoln's Death Mr. Blaine's Views of President 
Johnson's Reconstruction Measures Mr. Seward's Relations with the 

Chapter VI 423 

Bitter Quarrel Between President and Congress Impeachment of 
Johnson Failure of Southern States to Ratify "Fourteenth Amend- 
ment" Contest Between Mr. Johnson and Republican Party Atti- 
tude of Prominent Republicans Toward Negro Suffrage Recon- 
struction Negro Rule Fifteenth Amendment Civil Rights Bill- 
Johnson's Opposition to Fourteenth Amendment. 

Chapter YII 439 

Johnson Defeated for United States Senate by Henry Cooper, 1869 
Defeated for Lower House of Congress by James White, 1870 De- 
feated for Congress from State at Large by Horace Maynard, 1872 
January, 1875, elected to United States Senate Assails President 
Grant in the Extraordinary Session Convened March 4 Johnson's 
Views as to Payment of National Bonds Bonds Issued by Ten- 

Chapter VIII 451 

My Early Impressions of Andrew Johnson Compared with Other 
I'ublic Men of His Time Some of His Peculiar Traits and Char- 
acteristics-Intimate Friends and Their Influence Mr. Johnson in 
the Senate, 1860 Personal Character and Habits Critical Attitude 
of Contemporaries Celebrated Speech in Knoxville April, 1S61. 

By Mary B. Temple. 

Oliver Perry Temple was born January 27, 1820, in Greene 
county, Tennessee, within a mile of Greeneville College. His 
father, James Temple, well educated, of a quiet disposition and 
noted for his integrity, was greatly respected for his many vir- 
tues. He was a farmer, owning a large farm and a number of 
slaves. He was also a surveyor, but this was an accomplishment 
rather than a profession, and no mean one a hundred years ago. 
He married at the age of forty, and died in 1822, when he was 
fifty years old. 

The mother of Oliver Perry Temple was Mary Craig, eldest 
child of Samuel Craig and Jane Innis Burns. Samuel Craig was 
born in York, Pennsylvania. Enlisting at fifteen in the Conti- 
nental Line from Pennsylvania, he served for six years as cap- 
tain in the Revolutionary War. At one time he commanded the 
personal guard of General Washington. He was a man of com- 
manding presence and of great gallantry. At the battle of 
Paola, September 19, 1777, he received a bayonet wound in the 
face. He belonged to the large Craig family that came over 
from Ireland before the Revolution, settled at Easton, Pennsyl- 
vania, and founded that town. The family was prominent; 
many of the Craigs have held high positions, especially in Army 
and Navy circles. Seven brothers, including Captain Craig, all 
unusual men, were in the Revolutionary^ War ; one was a colonel, 
one was a major, and four others were captains. Samuel Craig 
removed to South Carolina at the close of the war. He married 
Jane Innis Burns, who was born in INIaryland. Her parents, 
John Burns and Mary McCoy, natives of Ireland, immigrated 
to South Carolina before the war of independence. John Burns 
became a patriot soldier, and sers'ed under Sumter, or Marion. 
The parents of Mary, Samuel McCoy and Jane Innis, both be- 
longed to wealthy families of Edinborough. In 1790, soon after 
his marriage. Captain Craig removed to Greene county, Tennes- 
see, where he selected a fine farm on the waters of Richland 



creek, near Greeneville. This farm remained in the family 
until a few years ago. 

Oliver Perry Temple's mother, Mary Craig, was a woman of 
fine judgment, superior business ability and strong will. She 
was unusually gentle and amiable. When left a widow, in 1822, 
with seven minor children, she managed her estate so well that 
it nearly doubled in value by the time the youngest child became 
of age. During this time she gave to her children the opportu- 
nity to become educated. She and James Temple were married 
in 1810 by the Rev. Charles Coffin, D.D., the celebrated presi- 
dent of Greeneville College, who was their neighbor and warm 
friend. They were both Presbyterians. On the maternal side 
all the ancestors of Oliver Perry Temple were of Scotch origin. 
Craig, Burns, McCoy and Innis are well-known and prominent 
Scotch names. On his father's side he was English. Thomas 
Temple of Heytesbury, Wiltshire, England, was the remote 
paternal ancestor of the subject of this sketch. His will was 
proved May 15, 1594. He left ten children. Among his grand- 
sons were William Temple of Coombs Lane, Parish of Atworth, 
or Bradford-on-Avon, who was the ancestor of the Temples of 
Chester county, Pennsylvania, and William Temple of Tithing 
Wick, who was the ancestor of the Virginia Temples. The Wilt- 
shire Temples have been prominent since 1600. There is little 
doubt that all the Temples have a common origin. It is an old 
and distinguished English family, dating back to the days of 
William the Conqueror. An estate named "Temple Hall" was 
granted to the first Temple, and it is likely that he received his 
name from the estate. This first Temple is said to have been a 
descendant of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, whose consort was Lady 
Godiva of Coventry. Neither in England nor in America has 
the family been numerous. However, the name is one that the 
bearer may justly be proud of. Sir Peter Temple and James 
Temple were two of the judges that condemned to death 
Charles I. They paid the penalty under Charles II with life 
imprisonment and with the confiscation of "Temple Hall." Sir 
William Temple was a privy councilor of Ireland. The Rev. 
Frederick Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, is another person 
that honored the name. 

William Temple of Coombs Lane married Susannah Carring- 
ton, and their third child was Thomas Temple, who was born in 
i^ngland in 1694. He was living in Goshen, Pennsylvania, in 


1721. He married Jane Chandler Jefferis, and died in 1775. 
Major Temple, their third son, the grandfather of the subject 
of this sketch, was born in Chester county, Pennsylvania, in 
1736, and he moved to Mecklenburg county, North Carolina, in 
1766. His wife was Mary Kennedy of Pennsylvania, a relative 
of Gen. Daniel Kennedy, well known in the early history of East 
Tennessee, and the aunt of Gen. Thomas Kennedy, who was a 
man of wealth and who became distinguished in the early history 
of Kentucky. The Kennedy family was a prominent one in 
Scotland. In 1780 Major Temple was with the North Carolina 
forces in the celebrated battle of King's Mountain.* In 1786 
he removed to Greene county, Tennessee, and selected a farm on 
Richland creek, adjoining the farm of the Rev. Hezekiah Balch, 
the founder of Greeneville College. On the Rev. Hezekiah 
Balch's farm the college was established. These two persons 
probably came together from North Carolina, as their farms 
were entered the same day, and each called for the line of the 
other. Both were Presbyterians. The Rev. Hezekiah Balch 
was a cousin of the celebrated Hezekiah J. Balch, who was 
said to have drafted the JNIecklenburg declaration of independ- 
ence. The Temple farm, like the Craig farm, two and a half 
miles distant, remained in the family until a few j^ears ago, 
when it was sold and divided among the heirs. Major Temple 
had five sons and one daughter. f 

The family became influential in Greene county, not only 
because of the property o\^iied by its members, which was con- 
siderable for that da}^ but also because of their virtues. In 
fact, the Temple family has been prominent as far back as it 
can be traced, and its standing has been kept up. It has been 
said that ^lajor Temple in 188-t had among his descendants 
twenty-five Presbyterian ministers and two hundred elders and 

Oliver Perry Temple was reared on the Temple farm. Like 
the boys of his day, he worked during the summer and went to 
old field schools during the winter. He always rejoiced in the 
fact that he had had this early experience in the hardships and 

*The musket that he carried, upon the handle of which he carved his 
initials "AI. T." before the battle, long remained in the family, and was call<-d 
"Old King's Mountain." 

tHe was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. In 17f7 he was apix)inted 
by the Legislature a commissioner to lay out and govern the town of Greene- 
ville, Tennessee. His son John was also appointed a commissioner. 


toil of farm life, as it taught him to sympathize with the laboring 
classes. At sixteen he attended Greeneville College, but did not 
assiduously apply himself to his studies. At eighteen, when a 
call was made, May, 1838, by the Governor for volunteers to go 
to the Cherokee Nation to suppress a possible outbreak, young 
Temple promptly volunteered, but the number offering to go was 
greater than was required, and lots were drawn. Temple drew 
a blank, but at once purchased another man's lot in order to go 
along with his friends. Temple was made a non-commissioned 
officer. The service lasted only about three months, but, brief as 
was this army experience, it served a good purpose. It made 
Temple determine to go back to college, to apply himself in earn- 
est to his studies, and to become a lawyer. From earliest boy- 
hood he had been fond of debating, and when but fourteen years 
old he Avould walk five miles to take part in the debating societies 
held in the country schools. The neighbors came to hear the 
boys debate. In this early choice of a profession he was influ- 
enced by his success in these debates, by the reputation of Robert 
J. McKinney, then at his zenith, and by the phenomenal rise of 
T. A. R. Nelson, who sprang at once into a foremost place at 
the bar, and whose success captivated Temple's imagination. 
At nineteen, the venerable Greeneville College having gone 
down, he entered Tusculum Academy, in Greene county, then 
under the control of the Rev. Samuel W. Doak, a celebrated 
teacher in his da}'. Here he applied himself diligently. In the 
fall of 1841 he went to Washington College, then just resusci- 
tated under the presidency of that brilliant young scholar, the 
Rev. Alexander A. Doak. 

Washington College was founded in 1780, in the wilderness 
of Washington county, by the justly celebrated Rev. Samuel 
Doak. Washington College was the first classical institution 
west of the Alleghanies, and for a great many years it was the 
leading one.* It was original!}^ chartered by the legislature of 
North Carolina as Martin Academy in 1783. In 1795 the terri- 
torial legislature of Tennessee chartered it, on the motion of 
John Sevier, under the name of Washington College, "in honor 
of the illustrious President of the United States." It was the 
first institution to bear his name. The elder Doak was a re- 
markable man. He was celebrated for intellect, learning and 

'Winning of the West," by Theodore Roosevelt. 


wonderful will power. His grandson, Alexander A. Doak, was 
a worthy representative of his distinguished ancestor. In gen- 
eral culture the younger Doak, perhaps, has never had an equal 
in the State. Fresh from the halls of Princeton at the time of 
young Temple's college days, the youthful president brought 
all the spirit of his almo mater to Washington College. He 
threw around his pupils the atmosphere of intellectuality of the 
former, and breathed into them a love of culture in the broadest 
sense. He unconsciously transmitted to them his own elegance 
of manner and speech. The refined, high-strung nature of Tem- 
ple bore through life the impress of the subtle influence of the 
beloved president, between whom and himself there grew a close 
and intimate friendship. At Washington College in the 'ttO's 
a splendid set of young men from the best families of Tennessee, 
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois and other 
States gathered. The father of Zebulon B. Vance met Temple 
while the latter was a student at this famous institution. Mr. 
Vance was so favorably impressed with the young man that he 
sent his son Zebulon to Washington College with the under- 
standing that Temple would take him in charge. Thus Wash- 
ington College claims as an alumnus Zebulon Vance, the late 
noted governor and senator from North Carolina. 

In his college days Temple was the leader in organizing a lit- 
erary societ}^ at Washington College in IS'll, which society con- 
tinues to the present time. In 1839, at Tusculum College, he 
also aided in starting a debating society. Thus early was 
showed the active mind that throughout life made him a sug- 
gester of useful innovations. 

At Washington College young Temple pursued his studies 
with great assiduity, and he graduated in 1844. He was imme- 
diately tendered a professorship in the college, which he de- 
clined. On leaving college he at once entered the field of politics. 
He made speeches for Mr. Clay in Carter, Washington, Greene, 
Cocke, Jefferson and Sullivan counties, traveling and speaking 
with the late Hon. William G. Brownlow. A few months later 
he read law under the direction of the late Judge Robert J. 
McKinney. In the same class were F. W^. Compton, afterwards 
one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the State of Arkan- 
sas; Robert H. Armstrong of Knoxville; John K. Howard, 
afterwards a well-known politician, and John A. McKinney, 
recently judge of the first judicial district. In 1846 these young 


men were admitted to the bar. Compton and Temple formed a 
partnership and located at Greeneville. Compton, Howard and 
Temple made their debut as lawyers in the same case, before 
Judge Alexander, and were all publicly complimented by him 
from the bench for their efforts. In July, 18-17, ten months 
after obtaining his law license, at the age of twenty-seven. Tem- 
ple became the Whig candidate for Congress against Andrew 
Johnson, then a candidate for re-election for his third term. 
After a heated canvass of three weeks, the usual majority of 
Mr. Johnson in the district was reduced from about 1500 to 
313 votes. With dismay Johnson saw fresh laurels won daily 
by his aggressive young adversary. The result of the election 
was a surprise to nearly every man in the district except the 
candidates themselves. "Temple, defeated as he was, felt that 
he was half conqueror, and Johnson, though elected, was deeply 
mortified and humiliated. This was one of the remarkable polit- 
ical contests of that day. . . . That a young man, without 
money or political experience, had entered that struggle in the 
face of a large Democratic majority, and had so reduced it after 
a joint canvass with Johnson, then in his prime, made it a won- 
derful and memorable campaign. Johnson was considered in- 
vincible on the stump, yet Temple made a reputation possessed 
by few men in the whole country.* 

"It is useless to speculate on the effect the defeat of Johnson 
in that race might have had on his future political fortunes. He 
was a man of such ambition, such strong and recuperative pow- 
ers, and of such infinite resources, that ordinary rules of calcu- 
lation would fail to give a satisfactory conclusion. But it is 
almost certain that by a defeat he would have been thrown out 
of the line of success which he afterwards followed up to the 
ver}^ highest positions of honor. It is almost certain that Lan- 
don C. Haynes would have been the regular Democratic candi- 
date for Congress at the next election, with Johnson probably as 
an independent candidate. Whether defeated or elected, he 
would have been somewhat out of line with his party, and the 
governorship and the senatorship would have been postponed or 
never attained. That he would have again appeared in politics, 
and with some success, none will doubt who knew his great pow- 
ers and intense ambition. But the probabilities are that his sub- 

"Prominent Tennesseeans," by Hon. William S. Speer. 


sequent career would have been greatl}^ modified and changed 
by a defeat."* 

Another writer says of this race: "Suppose Temple had de- 
feated Johnson in 1847? Could Johnson have recovered his lost 
ground afterwards and been governor in 1853 and 1855 and 
United States senator in 1857? And without the prestige of his 
unbroken series of brilliant victories and the great influence 
coming to him by virtue of the high positions he held, could he 
have been such a tower of strength to the union cause in 1861 ? 
And had he not been able to line up his Democratic followers in 
East Tennessee on the side of the union in 1861, what would have 
been the effect on the Bell and Everett men? Left standing 
alone by their Democratic neighbors, would they have still stood 
by the union? And had East Tennessee not been for the union 
and not sent thousands of her sons into the federal army, Avhat 
effect would that have had on the final result? These questions, 
so easily asked, are difficult to answer. But a careful study of 
the history of those stirring times will show that there was more 
involved in that race between Johnson and Temple away back in 
1847 than merely a seat in congress and the privilege of sitting 
in that historic old hall of representatives, redolent with the 
memories of John Sevier, of Clay, of Bell and of Sam Houston ; 
by the side of the venerable ex-President John Quincy Adams, 
and of Abraham Lincoln, the one lone Whig from Illinois." 

As to the outcome of the civil war, had not the people of East 
Tennessee and nearby States sent thousands into the federal 
army, Mr. Thomas Nelson Page says : ''These sterling people 
from the Appalachian region ... a half century ago ren- 
dered to this country an invaluable service. . . . Without 
them this union would have been divided. . . . They es- 
poused by a great majority the cause of the union. But, more 
than this, they furnished to the imion cause a great friendly 
territory staunch for the union through its breadth and length, 
extending for hundreds of miles down through the south and 
cutting the Confederate south in two. But for them Maryland 
and Kentucky would have gone out of the union with a rush, and 
Tennessee and Virginia would have been solid from east to 
west. . . . But for them the cause of secession would have 
inevitably succeeded." 

"Prominent Tennesseeans," by lion. William S. Speer, 


The Johnson-Temple campaign for congress became the turn- 
ing point in the life of Mr. Temple. A few months after this, 
in 1848, he removed to Knoxville, where he became the partner 
of the Hon. William H. Sneed, one of the ablest lawyers of his 
day. His principal reason for making this change was to get 
out of the first district and out of politics. Ever after, though 
active in nearly every political contest, except while on the 
bench, he constantly resisted the repeated efforts made to induce 
him to run for congress. Several times a nomination and an 
election were within easy reach. Before the civil war he was 
also prominently spoken of by leading Whig papers for gov- 

In 1850, on the recommendation of his friend, the Hon. John 
Bell, then senator from Tennessee, Mr. Temple was appointed 
by President Fillmore a commissioner, jointly with Col. Charles 
S. Todd of Kentucky, late minister to Russia, and Gen. Robert 
B. Campbell, for years a prominent member of congress from 
South Carolina, to negotiate with the Indian tribes in Texas, 
Arizona and New Mexico, the territories then recently acquired 
from Mexico. This was done under a special act of congress. 
The appointment of Mr. Temple as the associate of two such 
widely experienced and noted men as Colonel Todd and General 
Campbell, and on so responsible a mission, was at the time justly 
considered a marked compliment. The appointment proved to 
be full of valuable and delightful experiences. The meeting 
with such men as Reverdy Johnson of Maryland, General Rush 
and others, who later became famous, and a taste of the social 
life at the military post at San Antonio, all gave interest to the 
trip. In Washington Mr. Temple had the privilege of seeing 
and knowing many of the striking men of that dazzling day 
Clay, Webster, Benton and others. 

In September, 1851, soon after returning home, Mr. Temple 
was married to Miss Scotia Caledonia Humes. Her father, 
David Humes, a remarkable man, both mentally and physically, 
was of the celebrated Scotch family of that name. His wife, 
Eliza Saunderson, also of Scotch birth, and related to many of 
the best Scotch families, was a woman of conspicuous worth, 
intelligence and strength of character. The wife of Mr. Temple 
was the youngest of four sisters. Mrs. Temple had rare per- 
sonal charms: her striking presence, her winning manner, her 
ever-present sunshine of disposition, her kindliness of spirit, 


united in making her a favorite. While a leader socially, she 
was eminently a home-maker and devoted to her family and to 
her domestic duties. She was justl}^ celebrated for the splendor 
of her hospitality. 

Mr. Temple and Mrs. Temple had but one child, a daughter, 
Mary Boyce Temple, to whom they were devotedly attached, 
and who in affectionate remembrance of her father publishes 
this book. 

After the return of Mr. Temple from Texas he again became 
the law partner of William H. Sneed. This partnership lasted 
until the latter was elected to congress in August, 1855. Mr. 
Temple then formed a partnership with the Hon. Connally F. 
Trigg, late United States district judge of Tennessee, and this 
partnership continued until 1859. 

In 1856 the Southern Commercial Convention met in Knox- 
ville. It was composed of notable men from all the Southern 
States, such as Benjamin Yancey of Georgia, a brother of 
William L. Yancey ; L. W. Spratt ; the Hon. William W. Boyce, 
member of congress from South Carolina ; Gen. Roger A. Pryor 
of Virginia, now judge of the supreme court of New York, and 
others. Mr. Temple took an active part in the often heated dis- 
cussions of this convention, and, with his usual sense of modera- 
tion, introduced resolutions against the reintroduction of the 
African slave trade, which had been boldly advocated. 

In 1860 Mr. Temple was a delegate to the National Union 
Convention at Baltimore, and helped to nominate Bell and 
Everett for President and Vice-President. On his return to 
Tennessee, despite his remonstrance, he was chosen as the Bell 
elector for the second district. The joint canvass with the 
Breckinridge elector, James D. Thomas, lasted thirty days. It 
was heated from start to finish. After it was ended, ]Mr. Temple 
canvassed several of the adjoining counties, speaking until the 
day of the election. "More unequivocally and positively than any 
public speaker in the State, in that canvass Mr. Temple laid 
before the people and emphasized the question of union or dis- 
union. He felt deeply and sorrowfully the danger of civil war. 
He foretold, almost with the spirit of prophecy, that disunion 
or secession, and then a conflict of arms, would follow the elec- 
tion of Mr. Lincoln. He charged distinctly that in that event 
there was a deliberate purpose on the part of the southern lead- 
ers to break up the union. He denounced the contemplated pur- 


pose in the most vigorous words, and appealed to the people to 
rebuke the scheme. He discussed this question, and this only. 
. . In that campaign and in the discussions that followed 
he did as much as any one man to mould the union sentiment 
which was so conspicuously displayed by East Tennesseeans dur- 
ing the whole war, and which has guided their political action 
since. This union sentiment existed in the minds of the people 
by intuition and education, but it required such courageous men 
as Mr. Temple to cause it to crystallize and lead it to the accom- 
plishment of results."* 

In November, 1860, Mr. Temple made the first union speech 
delivered in Tennessee after the election of Mr. Lincoln. Among 
his papers is found this note : "I do not hesitate to affirm as a 
part of the truth of history, unknown to others, that the course 
taken by the union men in the two meetings of November and 
December, 1860, in Knoxville, was planned and arranged solely 
by Mr. Fleming and myself at my suggestion." In February, 
1861, he was unanimously' nominated by the union men to repre- 
sent Knox and Sevier counties in the proposed StMe convention. 
The union candidates were overwhelmingly elected against 
strong opposition, while the convention was voted down. Mr. 
Temple received in Sevier county thirteen hundred votes out of 
a total of thirteen hundred and one. 

Again, in the spring, when the question of secession was a 
second time brought before the people, he took the stump to 
oppose it, and spoke until the day of the election on June 8.t 
His last speech was at Concord, in a slaveholding community, 
where he told the slaveholders that by his course he was a truer 
friend of slavery than they; "that they were probably destroy- 
ing this species of property ; that if they went out of the union 


tWhen Judge Temple spoke at Blaine's Cross Roads, among his audience 
was Robert Barnwell Rhett of South Carolina, and the ladies of his family, 
who were spending the summer nearby. So indignant did they become at 
the bold tenor of the speech that they soon left. Interesting, is it not, to 
note that this conspicuous and extreme advocate of slavery was the first 
cousin of John Quincy Adams? A brother of Abigail Smith Adams, the 
wife of John Adams, removed to South Carolina and married a girl that 
objected to the name Smith ; consequently she induced him to take her 
family name, Rhett. The strong intellect of John Quincy Adams came from 
his mother, and this same intellect appears in Robert Barnwell Rhett, who 
was the successor to Calhoun in the United States Senate, presided over the 
Charleston Convention which voted to take the State out of the Union, and 
was a candidate for the presidency of the Southern Confederacy. 


they would be whipped back into it again ; that the government 
was powerful enough to accomplish this, and would do it."* He 
often declared during this canvass that if forced to make a choice 
between slavery and the union, he would say: "Live the union; 
perish slavery." In the celebrated Greeneville Convention of 
June, 1861, he was the author of the pacific substitute resolu- 
tion, which saved East Tennessee from the most awful conse- 

In 1864 Mr. Temple resumed the practice of his profession, 
and took into partnership Samuel A. Rodgers, later a circuit 
judge. In January, 1866, George Andrews, afterwards a judge 
of the supreme court of the State, was admitted to the firm. The 
business of the firm was enormous, and later James W. Dead- 
erick, afterwards a chief justice of the supreme court, was asso- 
ciated with them. Each of Mr. Temple's seven partners after- 
wards became a judge, excepting William H. Sneed, and he 
became a member of congress. In July, 1866, Mr. Temple 
was appointed chancellor. The appointment was unsolicited 
and was unknown to him until he received his commission. He 
kept the question of the acceptance under advisement for three 
weeks, and finally, through the influence of lawyers rather than 
by the approval of his own judgment, he accepted. Pie felt that 
he was perhaps committing an error, and later he looked back 
upon the acceptance of this appointment as the great mistake 
of his career. He was in the prime of life. After once going on 
the bench, though he constantly thought of resigning, like nearly 
all judges he could never quite bring himself to do so. He 
continued on the bench until September, 1878, a little over twelve 
years. By this time the harvest of business caused by the war 
had been gathered and new lawyers had come to the fore. 

At the first judicial election after the war Judge Temple was 
re-elected chancellor without opposition. At the next election, 
after the amended constitution went into effect, he was a second 
time victorious. Although he was opposed by a very superior 
lawyer and a former judge his majority was about three thou- 
sand six hundred. He retired from the bench voluntarily, hav- 
ing the assurance of a re-election. He returned to the practice 
of law with all the vim of his younger da^'s, and remained at the 
bar until November, 1881. During this time he was the attor- 



ney of the Rugbj Colony Company, Rugby, Tennessee, and was 
closely associated with Russell Sturgis of Boston and Thomas 
Hughes, author of "Tom Brown at Rugby," and other promi- 
nent Englishmen. 

In 1867, on the resignation of Judge Milligan as one of the 
judges of the supreme court of the State, Governor Brownlow 
immediately tendered the vacant position to Chancellor Temple, 
who declined it, as he preferred the chancellorship.! 

In 1874 Judge Temple was appointed by President Grant one 
of the board of visitors to the Military Academy at West Point, 
where he was associated with Senators Hoar, Howe and Don 
Cameron, Prof. Francis B. Wayland of Yale, and others. At 
this time he met and formed a strong friendship for the widow 
of Admiral Farragut. He also met and knew James G. Blaine. 

Judge Temple always took a deep interest in the agricultural 
development of Tennessee. Some years before the war he was 
a member of the State Board of Agriculture. In 1885 he pur- 
chased a small farm in the suburbs of Knoxville, where, while 
on the bench, he found recreation. He delighted in everything 
that grew. Everything flourished under his cultivation. His 
flowers were the most luxuriant, his trees the most perfect, his 
fruits the most luscious, his grass the most velvety. He intro- 
duced every new and improved variety of fruit, and every new 
rose was soon lending its fragrance to his rose garden. From 
all over the world he gathered the rarest trees and shrubs, and 
"Melrose," as his home was named, in memory of the home in 
Scotland of Mrs. Temple's mother, was as beautiful as any place 
in the State, with its artistic winding driveways and gently slop- 
ing laAVTis. In this park to-day are the handsomest homes of 
Knoxville. Judge Temple here introduced the first Jersey cattle 
into East Tennessee. 

In 1871 he was elected president of the Eastern Division Fair 
at Knoxville. By his efforts, with the aid of his efficient secre- 
tary, Mr. C. W. Charlton, the fair was made a magnificent suc- 
cess. Out of this success grew the idea in Judge Temple's mind 
of having the farmers come together for their own mutual 

tOne of the ablest, if not the ablest, jurist who ever sat on the supreme 
bench of Tennessee, William B. Turley of Memphis, uncle of the late United 
States Senator Thomas B. Turley, resigned from the supreme bench to accept 
the chancellorship at Memphis. Thus Judge Temple had a distinguished 
precedent for preferring the chancellorship to the supreme bench. 


benefit. In 1872 Judge Temple and Mr. Charlton originated 
and organized the East Tennessee Farmers' Convention. As 
president of the East Tennessee Agricultural Society Judge 
Temple called the convention of farmers to meet on the 16th of 
May. In response to this call, about two hundred farmers as- 
sembled. Judge Temple welcomed them to the "first convention 
of farmers in our history," saying: "I have seen conventions of 
all other callings and classes. For the first time in our history 
have the farmers the most numerous, the most important of 
all our classes assembled in convention as a body to deliberate 
on their own great interests. This fact is astonishing. Let us 
indulge the pleasing hope, let us resolve, that this meeting shall 
not be the last, but merely the beginning of a long series of 
annual meetings, full of instruction, continuing indefinitely 
through the future." And so they have continued growing each 
year larger, stronger, more helpful. From 2000 to 2500 farm- 
ers come together each year in May. Judge Temple was made 
the first president, then vice-president, and later honorary vice- 
president for life. He never ceased to take profound interest in 
the advancement of the farmers. Every honor, both during his 
life and since his death, that could be shown their founder has 
been extended by the Farmers' Convention. In the four meet- 
ings held since he passed away the convention has never failed 
to pay some tribute to his beloved memory. In 1910 his daugh- 
ter, Mary Boyce Temple, founded a "Short Course in Agricul- 
ture" to be held for one week, beginning December 26 of each 
year, in the respective counties of Eastern Tennessee, to be 
knowTi as the "Oliver Perry Temple Short Course in Agricul- 
ture." By means of this course many farmers and their sons, 
who are not able to obtain the advantages of a college course in 
agriculture in the State LTniversity, are greatly helped. 

On May 18, 1911, the largest Farmers' Convention that ever 
assembled in Tennessee met in Knoxville. This convention re- 
solved to build an assembly hall on the State agricultural farm 
at Knoxville and to name it "The Oliver Perry Temple Hall." 

The East Tennessee Farmers' Convention, called thirty-nine 
years ago, May 16 and 17, 1872, has become justly celebrated, 
and is probably the oldest body of its kind in the United States. 
Its power for good has been tremendous and inestimable. At 
the organization the leading paper was delivered by Judge 
Temple. Its subject was "Stock Raising," a subject in which 


he took the liveliest interest. Judge Temple was interested not 
only in the farmers, but in everything that helped his fellow- 
man, in everything that led to the advancement of the people of 
his State. He was patriotic in the highest sense, and constantly 
aimed to develop both the people and the industries about him. 
For fifty-three years he was an active trustee of the East Ten- 
nessee University, later the State University of Tennessee. He 
worked earnestly for its progress. He wrote personal letters 
to enlist support for its advancement, he published communica- 
tions in its behalf through the press to reach a larger public, 
and he was unceasing in his efforts to secure for it appropria- 
tions from the legislature. He worked also for years to obtain 
aid from the national government, and succeeded in getting an 
experiment station, a military department, an agricultural 
bureau and certain funds or land grants that went with them. 
In his outlook for the university's future he was progressive and 
ahead of his time. At a critical period in the university's career, 
1886-1887, he was himself, as chairman of the board of trustees, 
its acting president, and was offered the presidency. In the face 
of strong opposition he effected a radical change in the univer- 
sity's organization, and influenced Dr. Charles W. Dabney to 
accept the presidency, with an entire change of faculty. He was 
Dr. Dabney's chief counsellor in all the improvements that fol- 
lowed. Later, in 1901, strongly advocating its prospective 
benefits when it was opposed by others, he took a vital interest 
in the founding of the Summer School of the South in connec- 
tion with the university. Dr. P. P. Claxton was then at its 
head. On June 28, 1911, Dr. Claxton was appointed commis- 
sioner of education by President Taft. In no public work dur- 
ing his entire life of varied and great public service did Judge 
Temple labor so persistently, so zealously and so faithfully as 
in his untiring efforts for the upbuilding of the University of 

Judge Temple was chairman of the agricultural committee 
until 1900. During this time the agricultural farm and the 
experiment station were particularly his province, and his direc- 
tion of them was truly a labor of love. He hoped to interest and 
inspire the young farmers by the practical lessons scientifically 
given on the experiment farm. He held that the proper policy 
of the university was to emphasize the work of the agricultural 
department, both in order to carry out the laws of congress as 


well as to fulfil the trust to the State. "His services to the univer- 
sity and to the cause of education of the State deserve to be 
remembered with gratitude by the people of the entire State. 
It is safe to say that he did more to build up the university, and 
especially the agricultural department, than any other man."* 
He accomplished the scattering of the trustees over the State, 
though when, on February 25, 1884, he first offered a resolution 
bearing on that point, in order to make the university in reality 
as in name a State institution, it was discussed, opposed, and 
not even seconded. 

He never ceased to have an abounding pride in his own alma 
mater, Washington College. He always aided it with advice and 
in more substantial ways. Through his help several of his 
nephews and great-nephews were enabled to take the college 
course. He never turned a deaf ear to an ambitious boy nor to a 
needy working man or woman. His benefactions were numerous 
and as generous as his means permitted. 

Judge Temple at all times manifested a deep concern in all 
public enterprises calculated to improve his State and his 
adopted city. His mind was always busy to effect some improve- 
ment. He took a particularly active part in fostering the build- 
ing of railroads. He was one of the originators of the Knox- 
ville and Ohio Railroad in 1854, now a part of the Southern sys- 
tem. He was an original stockholder, one of the first directors 
and the first secretary of the board. He was also a director, for 
two or three years soon after the war, of the East Tennessee and 
Georgia Railroad, now the Southern, of which his brother, 
Major Temple, was the first civil engineer. He memorialized 
the legislature on good roads, and he himself built, giving 
largely both time and money, the first macadamized road in 
East Tennessee, the Kingston pike, and as president he person- 
ally superintended its construction. 

He was a trustee in the Deaf and Dumb School before the war. 
He aided in the starting of a public library, and later was a 
trustee and president of the Lawson McGee Library. He was 
a trustee in the Second Presbyterian Church, in the tower of 
which to-day one of the memorial chimes rings forth in his 

He was a very active member of the Knoxville Industrial 
Association. An address that he delivered in 1869 before this 

Resolutions of the Knoxville Bar, in 1907, on the death of Judge Temple. 


body on the resources and possibilities of his section was pub- 
lished and widely circulated. He was a member of the Board 
of Trade and of the Chamber of Commerce. He was a State 
commissioner to the World's Fair in Chicago. He was colonel 
on the staff of Governor Neill S. Brown in 1847. In 1899 Judge 
Temple was honored by the Scotch-Irish Society of America by 
being made its president to succeed the late Robert Bonner of 
the New York Ledger. 

In politics Judge Temple was a Whig before the war, a union 
man during the war, and later an unswerving Republican. 
While on the bench he declined to make political speeches or to 
take any part in political conventions. No judge ever kept 
clearer of politics. In 1865 he worked to defeat the plan of 
Governor Johnson for reorganizing the State government, be- 
lieving that a constitutional convention, made up of delegates 
duly elected, should have been called. He felt that a great deal 
of the discontent that followed in the State might have been pre- 
vented had a wisely selected constitutional convention been as- 

Judge Temple gave his last days to authorship and to the 
conduct of his private business affairs. It is a remarkable fact 
that all his literary work was undertaken after he was seventy- 
five years old, when for a second time he had acquired a com- 
petency. He had lost his fortune in the panic of 1873. 

Judge Temple was a scholar. He was exceedingly fond of 
books and literature, and his eager, active mind was stored with 
information. He was a close and careful observer; his judg- 
ment was discriminating ; his spirit broad ; his wisdom ripe. 
He was a profound thinker; his mind was clear, incisive and 
accurate. Because of his fine spirit and kindly temper, his study 
of events was dispassionate and calmly philosophical. His 
training as a lawyer and as a judge gave a judicial value to his 
conclusions. He calmly weighed in the balance the evidence on 
each side. He wielded a facile pen. He thus possessed in an 
unusual degree the qualities that make an accurate and success- 
ful historian, and he was regarded as an authority on the his- 
tory of Tennessee. He was the author of "The Covenanter, the 
Cavalier and the Puritan," 1897, and of "East Tennessee and 
the Civil War," 1899, both masterly contributions to history. 
In the latter he showed himself free from all partisan bitter- 
ness a generous, unbiased critic of the events in which he him- 


self had taken a leading part. A lecture on the "Scotch-Irish 
of Tennessee" and many other lectures he delivered frequently. 
A sketch of "John Sevier," written for the dedication of the 
Sevier monument, in the building of which he was one of the fore- 
most spirits, was pubHshed in 1910 by his daughter. It is said 
to be the best article ever written about Tennessee's first gov- 
ernor. Judge Temple was indefatigable in his literary labors, 
painstaking, industrious, persevering. He enjoyed the mental 
stimulus and exhilaration. He took great pleasure in the work, 
and even after an accident rendered him a great sufferer, his 
writing, though interrupted, was not entirely laid aside. 

In the early and middle portion of his life Judge Temple was 
rather a delicate man, and he was constantly handicapped by 
eyes that were not strong. He was always extremely careful 
and abstemious, and after his seventieth year he gradually grew 
into perfect health; at seventy-five he was alert, active and as 
straight as an arrow in his stately and dignified carriage. He 
was apparently in his prime, and he had his hands full of both 
private and public business. These latter years of Judge Tem- 
ple's life were rich in unexpected tokens of regard. His birth- 
days were occasions for felicitations on the part of friends at 
home and throughout the land letters, telegrams, visits and 
remembrances bore to him the love and good wishes of the many 
admirers that he had in every station of life. The papers wrote 
of him as "The Grand Old Man of Tennessee," and in vigor of 
body and mind he bore a striking resemblance to Mr. Gladstone, 
the "Grand Old Man" of England. Until 1904 his perfect 
physical condition and his wonderful vigor of mind made him a 
marvel the perfect fruition of a life generously spent; unselfish 
motives, honesty and high principles had been its mainspring. 
He was pure in heart. In July, 1904, he became seriously ill, 
and he lingered between life and death for weeks. Though he 
recovered, he was never quite strong again. The following June 
he had a fall, which left him with a fractured hip. For nearly 
three and a half years from the time of his first breakdown until 
his passing away his patience and his endurance were heroic. 
He was bright and hopeful, despite almost insupportable suffer- 
ing, seeing his friends, recounting bits of history, or even giving 
expressions to an outburst of humor, which was always one of 
his greatest joys. Occasionally he wrote letters, or even at 
times worked on his "Union Leaders," his unfinished book, 


which he was eager to finish and publish. His spirit rose supe- 
rior to physical pain ; whenever possible, on his sick couch, he 
labored to complete his manuscript, his mind clear, alert, incisive 
and his memory perfect a brave fight worthy the emulation of 
younger persons. It is the men that have accomplished at so 
advanced an age such feats as did Judge Temple that stand out 
as luminous landmarks. 

Whatever harsh traits Judge Temple may have had were 
softened in his later years. While the virility, manliness and 
forcefulness that he was so splendidly endowed with were 
strengthened by the passing years, yet they were mellowed and 
enriched by time. His Christian faith was strong, and fre- 
quently he said, "I am ready, I am waiting." Judge Temple 
had always a high reverence for religion and for the Presbyte- 
rian church. He, his wife and his daughter belonged to that 
denomination, as his ancestors for generations before him had 
done. Reverence was one of his strongest traits. His tempera- 
ment was deeply poetic, imaginative and artistic, yet in contrast 
was extremely practical and somewhat austere in its exactions 
upon himself and upon others. He loved perfection in all 
things, whether of one of nature's marvelous scenes or of art's 
most exquisite fashioning of fabric or color. His own dress 
was not only immaculate, but always elegant. He was always 
noticeable in appearance, his walk brisk, his head high and his 
carriage graceful, while his cordiality, his repose of manner, his 
fine poise made him the type of the old-time southern gentlemen. 

The hospitality of Judge Temple and Mrs. Temple was far- 
famed, and later his daughter kept up the reputation of the 
Temple home as a social center. Judge Temple delighted to 
have his friends about him and to welcome them to his historic 
old home.* 

*The first Union general to enter Knoxville in the sixties was Gen. John W. 
Foster, secretary of state under President Harrison, and the greatest diplomat 
and international lawyer of our country to-day. Upon his arrival in Knoxville, 
General Foster sent for Judge Temple to ask his advice. This friendship was 
continued with mutual high regard. One of the most pleasant incidents of 
Judge Temple's long illness was a visit, in March, 1906, from General Foster 
and Mrs. Foster, who were en route to Nashville, in a private car, in company 
with Sir Mortimer Durand, the British ambassador to the United States, Miss 
Durand, and Commissioner McFarland of the District of Columbia. They all 
stopped to see Judge Temple. He found great pleasure in welcoming them to 
his sick room, and in knowing that they were gathered around his hospitable 
table with a brilliant company to meet them. 


"Among Judge Temple's many distinguished traits of char- 
acter which marked him as a man of force was his keen percep- 
tion of moral truth and an exemplification of it in every sphere 
of life. His personal honesty was proverbial. His industry and 
energy were of the highest order and were only equaled by his 
fidelity to friends and devotion to principle. The same rule of 
conduct marked his connection with public trusts, which was 
ascribed to his personal character. He was possessed of a large 
amount of what men call 'soul.' He was sympathetic and kind. 
He was always popular, as was shown by his success with An- 
drew Johnson in 1847. His popularity begun, grew into mag- 
nificent proportions on account of this giant-like battle up to 
the war."* 

His great hold on the people from the highest to the lowest 
came from the fact that they had absolute confidence in him ; 
they knew that they could rely upon what he said as true and 
upon what he did as honest. 

With a Puritan's scrupulousness, truthfulness and honor, 
inherited from his English ancestors. Judge Temple united a 
quiet Scotch humor and love of a joke that made him a genial 
companion. He intimately knew the spirit that ruled the masses 
as well as the reasons that prompted their actions in critical 
times. "In the first two years of the civil war, when Johnson 
and Maynard were fugitives and Nelson in a Richmond prison, 
Temple's good temper and diplomatic skill enabled him to re- 
main at home and sometimes to soften the rigors of Confederate 
rule over his fellow-citizens. When in 1863 Knoxville was occu- 
pied by the federal army, his influence with the authorities at 
Washington was again active, and he had a part in everything 
that concerned his region. "f 

Judge Temple as a boy was shrinking and timid. Later when 
he took the lead and assumed an aggressive attitude, it was be- 
cause he felt the supreme need of carrying forward some vital 
principle. He was one of the best and most popular speakers in 
the State before he was thirty-five, his manner pleasing, his voice 
exceptionally good and his gesticulation dramatic. His facts 
were clear, his reasoning was logical; his arguments were sim- 
ple, yet they were combined with power of imagination. He was 



not only an orator, but also a debater. He never failed to im- 
press his hearers, and generally won his cause. When it was 
known that he would speak, people would travel miles to hear 
him. "Long before the sixties he was among the foremost law- 
yers at the Knoxville bar, which was always strong, but never 
stronger than during that period. He was particularly effective 
before a jury, and rarely lost a criminal case. Subsequent to 
the war his judicial career was noted."* 

Judge William A. Henderson writes of Judge Temple : "His 
universal kindness, aid, protection and instruction to the 
younger members of the bar who practiced before him, or whom 
he met socially, were remarkable. He would protect a sparrow 
hawk against the unjust attack of an eagle. Most of the mem- 
bers of the bar were young men when he was on the bench, and 
they all revere his memory." 

Chief Justice Beard of the supreme court of Tennessee one 
of his closest friends in a letter on Judge Temple's eighty- 
second birthday, wrote : "Few attain your number of years and 
retain your wonderful interest in the general affairs of life. I 
wish that you may be spared many years of useful citizenship, 
and may continue to be a guide to your friends in all that you 
consider noble and uplifting." 

The late Senator Bate, July 9A, 1903, wrote: "I look back 
with pleasure to my two visits to your hospitable and historic 
home. It is so rare that one of your age is left with strength 
and health and retention of faculties that a casual visit to you in 
itself is of interest, even were it not associated with the lawyer, 
the chancellor and the author. Your green old age demonstrates 
the goodness of nature to those whose habits and taste in life 
have been those of the Christian philosopher, and . . . when 
I left you I felt like quoting the Prince of Denmark: 'I shall 
not look upon his like again.' " 

Judge Temple was a man to be remembered with reverence 
and gratitude by his inmost circle of friends, as well as by those 
in the humbler walks of life that knew him. 

Mr. W. B. Lenoir, of the opposite political party from Judge 
Temple, wrote : "I admired Judge Temple when I was a boy, I 
think, because he was an aristocrat. I did not attempt to define 
the word to myself at the time, but give a definition now in its 



true sense as being one who is too intelligent and honest and too 
proud of himself, of his family and of his country ever to do a 
mean or unworthy thing. ... I am as proud, perhaps more 
so, of O. P. Temple for what he did not do as for what he did do. 
He did not use his great influence to persecute those of opposite 
political sentiments after the civil w ar, but to protect them ; he 
did not drag the ermine in the mire of partisan politics or let 
political prejudice weigh the balance, but dealt out even-handed 
justice. He was the just judge, the upright citizen, the graceful 
speaker, the polished southern gentleman."' 

A life-long admirer says : "He was the very ideal of a high- 
minded and courteous gentleman, the soul of honor as a man, 
and as a jurist an ornament to that noble profession of which 
he was an acknowledged leader. He left to his daughter a 
precious legacy in the memory of his home life, of his devotion 
to her mother and to herself, and in his long life and splendid 
record in the community as a lawyer, an author, a public ser- 
vant and a Christian gentleman." Of his character it can well 
be said that he was a zealous and devoted patriot, pure and noble 
in his ideals, honest in all his dealings, truthful and sincere in 
all his utterances, and a worker who never stayed his hand, 
though he was over eighty-seven 3^ears old, until death com- 
manded him to cease. He had set an example that even the 
worthiest would be honored by following. 

Judge Temple died at his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, No- 
vember 2, 1907, in the eighty-eighth year of his age, mourned 
by his community and by his State. He was the last of the 
great union leaders, his contemporaries having all gone before. 
His well-rounded old age was a crown of glory. 

M. B. T. 

Knoxville, Tenn., 

March 12, 1912. 


FROM 1833 TO 1875 

Three Remarkable Facts November, 1860, to February Election, 1861 
South Carolina Secedes, December 26, 1860 Grave Questions in Border 
States Bewildering Uncertainty as to Interest and Duty Ambitious 
Leaders in Cotton States Vague Fear of the Abolitionists Wide- 
spread Secession Movement Attitude Toward Slavery First Union 
Speech Knoxville Streets Full of Secessionists November 26, Public 
Meetings Adjourned Without Decisive Vote December 8, Secession 
Resolutions Defeated, Victory for Union Overwhelming Meetings in 
Other Counties Author Reluctantly Assumed Leadership Brownlow's 
Paper Plays an Important Part Johnson's Part Local Leaders 
Third Crisis Emancipation Brownlow's Quarrel with Johnson 
Alexander Stephens at Milledgeville Firing on Sumter Lincoln's 

Three remarkable facts mark the history and give interest 
to the people of East Tennessee. The first was the formation 
by them of the "Watauga Association" in 1774, composed of 
the infant settlements of the Watauga, the Holston, the Noli- 
chucky, and the one in Carter's Valle3^ The articles of "asso- 
ciation" united these settlements and the people thereof into a 
government, with a written constitution, republican in form and 
spirit, under which they lived and governed themselves for years. 
This was the first written constitution adopted west of the 
Alleghanics, as well as the first free and independent govern- 
ment established by men of American birth on the continent.* 
Remote from the older settlements of North Carolina, neglected 
and apparently forgotten, without the protection of laws or 
courts, these brave and intelligent men, guided by the instinct of 
self-preservation and a natural genius for government, volun- 
tarily came together, organized themselves into a little confed- 
eracy, adopted laws, selected agents to administer the laws, and 
bound themselves to obey the legal and executive authorities, 
and thus established in the wilderness their little self-constituted 

Ramsey's "Annals of Tennessee," p. 107. Roosevelt's "Winnins of the 
West," Vol. I, pp. 163, 164, and notes on pages 102, 163. 



government, and sent it forward upon its peaceful career of 
order and prosperity. 

The second striking fact in the early history of these people 
was the formation, in 1784, of the State of Franklin, and its 
secession from the parent State of North Carolina. This seces- 
sion was not an act of rebellion nor hostile revolution. By the 
Cession Act North Carolina transferred all of her territory 
west of the mountains, now forming the State of Tennessee, to 
the Congress of the Confederation, leaving the people of that 
territory a second time without the protection of laws or courts, 
or any means of defense against hostile Indians except their own 
stout arms. In this dilemma the people came together, through 
delegates duly chosen, as the settlements had done in 17T2, and 
declared their independence, formed a government, and launched 
the State of Franklin on its stormy but short and ill-fated 
career. In both of these cases it was the impulse of freedom and 
the instinct of self-preservation that inspired these brave men 
to establish governments. This was not lawlessness. On the 
contrary, the people were animated by the purest love of law, 
order, security, and liberty.* It is a remarkable fact that these 
people were self-governed during nearly the entire period from 
the first settlement on the Watauga, in 1769 or 1770, until the 
organization of the "Territory South of the Ohio River," in 

The third striking fact in reference to the people of East 
Tennessee is that in February, 1861, when the other grand divi- 
sions of the State, by a majority of nearly ninety thousand, 
voted to secede from the Union, they decided to adhere to the 
government of their fathers by a vote of about two and one-half 
to one. And this was done, too, amid the storm and tempest of 
war, when almost the whole South was shaking and rocking in 
the violent convulsion of revolutionary secession. In the midst 
of all this uproar and upheaval these people determinedly, hero- 
ically, stood by their convictions and their country. 

After this brief reference to early history I shall attempt to 
point out and sketch the leaders of this people in the last and 
the supreme crisis of our government, in the dark and stormy 
days of 1861. 

The period from November, 1860, to the February election. 

*It is singular tliat the above should be written on December 31, 1900 
the last day of the year and the last day of the nineteenth century. 


1861, was by far the most critic<al in the history of the Union 
cause. It was the formative period the time when public senti- 
ment was crystallizing around new theories ; the period of doubt, 
alarm, change. New conditions had come into being; new 
questions had arisen ; old political elements were dissolving ; 
old party organizations were melting away. A new and power- 
ful sectional party the Republicans and Abolitionists had 
come into power and controlled Congress. The peculiar insti- 
tutions of the South were supposed to be in danger, and great 
and perilous events were impending. 

The announcement of the election of Mr. Lincoln was received 
nearly everywhere in the South with gloomy forebodings. South 
Carolina immediately commenced making preparations for with- 
drawal from the Union. On the 26th of December, with solemn 
pomp and ceremony, the ancient bonds of the Union, cemented 
by the blood of the Revolution, were broken, and that proud old 
State, so full of glorious deeds and memories, declared her inde- 
pendence, and assumed her position as a sovereign power. Other 
States were ready to follow her example. Already the sound 
of martial music and the mustering of troops were heard. Uni- 
versal alarm and uncertainty prevailed. Men began to ask them- 
selves : What will the end be ? 

In the Southern States, and especially in Tennessee, Virginia, 
Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, other questions of grave 
import arose in the minds of men. What will my State do.'' 
Will it join in the movement to break up the Union.'* Is the 
institution of slavery in serious danger .f* Will the North respect 
or trample upon the constitutional rights of the slave States.'' 
Where shall I go ; with the Abolitionists of the North to main- 
tain the Union, or the Secessionists of the South, to dissolve it.'' 

Thus, in the early stages of the development of the gigantic 
scheme to establish a Confederacy of the Southern States, the 
minds of perhaps a majority of people in these States were in 
a state of bewildering uncertainty as to their interest and duty. 

With the exception of the ambitious leaders in the cotton 
States and with the exception of those who had imbibed the virus 
of secession from rabid leaders, a majority of the people in 
spite of a greater or less degree of prejudice against the people 
of the North still loved the Union. It was difficult for them to 
entertain the idea of severing the connection. Fifty years of 
peace had made them dread war, especially a civil war, a war 


among their own countrymen. Nor was anyone sufficiently 
gifted with prescience to be able to predict the results of either 
war or peace. 

The best friends of the Union in the South had a vague fear 
of the Abolitionists, as the dominant party in the North was 
popularly called. These had been depicted in such dark colors, 
their purposes had been denounced as so infamous, so diabolical, 
by the friends of disunion, that in the course of time they came 
to be regarded as something to be feared, as well as hated and 
loathed, by nearly every Southern man and woman. It is true 
that intelligent men, who were free from the dominant prejudice, 
knew the difference between the Abolitionists proper and the 
Free Soilers the infinitely larger party who constituted the 
real strength of the triumphant party which had elected Mr. 
Lincoln but with perhaps an overwhelming majority of the 
people this difference was unknown, and both were regarded as 
Abolitionists and as enemies of the South. 

Notwithstanding that the Whigs had been taught from 
infancy to revere the Union, the events following the Presidential 
election of 1860 were so sudden and startling, and succeeded each 
other with such rapidity, the movement in favor of secession 
became so widespread and alarming that many of them, if not a 
majority, became confused as to their duty. When they heard 
an almost universal outcry in the South against the election of 
Mr. Lincoln and the ascendency of the Abolition party, and 
beheld State after State preparing to secede from the Union ; 
when it was daily proclaimed from the stump and through the 
press that the direst calamity would befall the Southern people 
unless they declared their independence and forever separated 
from their enemies in the North; when the evil purposes of the 
Abolitionists were everywhere proclaimed in the darkest colors, 
the people naturally came to a pause. They began to consider 
whether there might not be some good reason for the course of 
the advocates of disunion. These suggestions arose in the minds 
of patriotic men in view of the new and alarming conditions that 
surrounded them. 

The overpowering influence of slavery, the fear of falling 
under the condemnation of the mighty oligarchy of slaveholders, 
to some extent had paralyzed the minds of men. Not a man in 
the South dared openly to question the morality of slavery. 
No one dared any longer to suggest either its removal or its 


amelioration. All, whether slaveholders or non-slaveholders, 
felt the crushing power and the omnipotence of this despotism 
of public opinion. The least suspicion of disloyalty to slavery, 
the least hint of anti-slavery sentiments on the part of anyone, 
brought upon such person infamy and the curse of social out- 
lawry. He was to be shunned as a loathsome leper. Never was 
this feeling so strong, so bitter, so pervasive, as during the first 
few months after the election of Mr. Lincoln. Combined with 
this was another feeling nearly as potent ; that is, that Southern 
men should go with the South, with their section, their State, 
their neighbors and their friends. With all this there was con- 
stantly presented by the press, by public speakers, and often by 
the pulpit, the dark picture of the horrible desolation to be 
wrought in the South by Abolition rule. And amid all these 
things, and sounding far above them, was the noise of the prep- 
aration for war. 

With such scenes in their midst, new and wonderful, it is 
little surprising that many, indeed most, of the best Union men 
were at first bewildered. Most of those whom I met were at this 
time cautious and hesitating. They were for the Union, but a 
vague dread of "something they knew not of" fettered their 
minds. In a few weeks this feeling passed away, notably after 
the great meeting in Knoxville on December 8, and after Mr. 
Johnson's bold speech in the Senate, December 19 and 20. It 
needed only brave leaders and brave words to reassure the timid 
and the hesitating. 

Two weeks after the Presidential election I was in attendance 
upon the Circuit Court in Sevierville. I found the people in a 
fearful state of doubt and perplexity. South Carolina was then 
on the point of withdrawing from the Union. By request I ad- 
dressed the people on the condition of the country. I pointed 
out that secession was the causeless and ambitious project of a 
few Southern leaders, and explained at length that the triumph 
and ascendency of the Republican party did not menace the lib- 
erties of the people nor endanger the safety of the institution of 
slavery. This was the first Union speech made in Tennessee, or 
perhaps in the South, after the Presidential election. 

On my return home a few days later I found a still more 
threatening aspect in the condition of public affairs in Knox- 
ville. The streets were full of secessionists noisy, aggressive, 
and domineering. Federal Court was in session, and jurors were 


wearing in the jury box secession badges, in a United States 
Court, presided over by West H. Humphreys, a United States 
Judge. Judge, clerk, marshal, jurors, and many witnesses and 
spectators were open and defiant in opposition to the govern- 
ment. A call had appeared in the newspapers for a public meet- 
ing to be held on the evening of the succeeding day, the 26th of 
November, to take into consideration the condition of public 
affairs. The object of this call was obvious. It was intended 
to get the citizens together, and in the confusion and doubt which 
prevailed in their minds, to pass resolutions favorable to the 
secession of Tennessee. On consultation with John M. Fleming 
I decided to attend the proposed meeting and take part in it, and, 
if possible, to defeat its object. When the meeting assembled the 
friends of secession were present in force ; they were noisy and 
demonstrative. So great was the alarm and uncertainty among 
the Union men, and so timid were they, that it was difficult to get 
them to go to the meeting. As was anticipated, resolutions 
advocating the convening of the Legislature in extra session, a 
call for a State Constitutional Convention, and the endorsement 
of a conference of delegates from the Southern States were intro- 
duced by a committee and advocated with great earnestness by 
the leading secessionists. John Baxter and John J. Reese, both 
of whom were Union men, advocated that policy. The fight in 
opposition to these resolutions and measures was made by John 
M. Fleming, then a young man, and myself. Finally, after 
a long struggle and without a decisive vote, the meeting ad- 
journed to meet nearly two weeks later, on the 8th of December, 
in the daytime. If the vote had been taken that night on the 
resolutions, it was clear to those in the opposition that they 
would have been triumphantly carried. Why the leaders in that 
movement allowed the meeting to adjourn without a vote, and to 
reassemble in the daytime, has always been a mystery. The 
result of a favorable vote that night on the propositions before 
the meeting would have given an impetus to the cause of secession 
that could have been counteracted only with great difficulty. 

After the adjournment of this meeting those who had been 
active in opposition to its purpose took immediate steps to 
arouse the people of the country to the necessity of attending 
the public meeting on the 8th of December. When the day 
arrived the town was full of excited men from the country. They 
were present from every part of the county, and in some in- 


stances from adjoining counties. It was a day of anxious 
solicitude to those on the Union side who were to take part in 
the meeting, and one never to be forgotten. At an early hour 
the courthouse was filled and packed with people, with many on 
the outside. The same resolutions which had been presented at 
the previous meeting were again brougjit forward. They were 
advocated by John H. Crozier, John Baxter, William B. Reese, 
James W. Humes and Wayne W. Wallace, and by William 
H. Sneed. The fact was not disguised in the discussion 
that the object of the resolutions was to bring this meeting and 
the State of Tennessee into line with the Southern States. 
Secession was not openly advocated, but it was constantly in- 
sisted that common cause should be made with our brethren of 
the South. On the other side, the speakers who opposed this 
movement were Samuel R. Rogers and myself. Mr. Rogers 
spoke very briefly, but pointedly. Mr. William G. Brownlow 
was present, taking notes for his paper, but took no part in the 
proceedings until just before the close, when he made a few 
stirring and characteristic remarks against secession. The dis- 
cussion lasted four hours. It was animated and spirited, but at 
no time acrimonious. The solemnity of the occasion, the mo- 
mentous issues involved, the tremendous crisis that was impend- 
ing, the uncertainty in the minds of all present as to the opinions 
and feelings of the people in reference to the new questions which 
had arisen, seemed to moderate the tone of the speakers as well 
as the temper of the crowd. At last, toward four o'clock in the 
afternoon, the resolutions offered by the committee were put to 
a vote and defeated by a large majority. Then John M. Flem- 
ing arose and offered some ringing resolutions, condemning 
secession as a heresy, and endorsing the Union, which were re- 
ceived with the wildest enthusiasm. The resolutions were put 
upon their passage and adopted by three or four to one. A loud 
shout of triumph went up. The pent-up feelings of the crowd, 
hitherto restrained by a sense of the awful solemnity of the ques- 
tions at issue, at last burst forth in unrestrained demonstrations 
of joy. At this moment John J. Reese, who, as we have seen, 
started out a friend of the defeated resolutions, jumped upon the 
platform and proposed three cheers for the Union. The sound 
which followed In response was like the thunder of a cataract. 
The Union victory was complete and overwhelming. 

No such public meeting as this perhaps was ever held in the 


country. For nearly four hours a packed house had listened to 
speeches both for and against the dissolution of the Union. The 
people had patiently and quietly listened to all that could be said 
on either side, and had then pronounced their verdict. So calm 
and dispassionate a discussion of the great question involved 
was never before and never afterward heard. Its effect upon the 
public mind and the Union cause in East Tennessee was of 
transcendent importance. The news of it was carried abroad by 
those present, and proclaimed in exultant tones by INIr. Brown- 
low through his paper, until it became known to every intelligent 
man throughout East Tennessee. Soon public meetings were 
held in other counties, one after another, until nearly every 
county had declared for the Union. 

It will be observed that neither Mr. Maynard nor IMr. Trigg 
was present at this meeting, and that Mr. Baxter, though a 
decided Union man, had a favorite remedy of his own. Mr. 
Trigg was absent from home, probably attending one of his 
courts. Up to this time, however, he had taken no part in poli- 
tics since his removal from Virginia in 1855. Mr. Maynard was 
absent in Washington as a member of Congress. 

The part of leadership thrust upon me in these meetings was 
reluctantly taken by me. I shrank from the responsibility of 
this position, but I saw no alternative unless willing to see an 
irretrievable injury inflicted on the Union cause. Mr. Baxter 
was not in favor of secession, but was the author of the plan sup- 
ported by the secessionists. Mr. Maynard had declined to at- 
tend the meeting. Mr. Rogers was not a public speaker, and Mr. 
Fleming was a very young man. These were the only Union 
leaders who resided at Knoxville. It was therefore apparent to 
me that unless I took the lead in opposition to the movements 
of the secessionists, no one would do so. In the late Presidential 
canvass leadership had devolved upon me against my will by my 
party selecting me as elector for my district. It was therefore 
most natural that I should be forced to assume this position for 
this occasion, however reluctant I was to do so. 

So far as the question of the Union was concerned, in 
1861, when the greatest question that ever agitated this 
country arose, it was most fortunate that there were so many 
brave and able men in East Tennessee, capable of counseling the 
people and of assisting Mr. Johnson. Happily, there were avail- 
able the very men for such a crisis men endowed with qualities 


precisely adapted to stormy times. These possessed a power to 
control and guide the warring elements around them that was 
indeed sublime. No dangers could intimidate, no terrors silence 
them. Their courage rose with the magnitude of the peril. Nor 
were they distinguished for daring only. Some of them pos- 
sessed talents such as are bestowed only on a gifted few, admir- 
ably fitting them either to resist or lead a revolution. There 
were no other men of like number in the State who, as a whole, 
were their equals. 

The men to whom I refer as especially noted for the qualities 
that make leaders were Andrew Johnson, William G. Brownlow, 
Thomas A. R. Nelson and John Baxter. Of these four, Mr. 
Johnson was the best known, and possibly the most gifted. Mr. 
Brownlow was a man of great natural poAver. He had a daunt- 
less spirit that knew no fear, and possessed a magnetism that 
attracted men with a force rarely witnessed. Mr. Nelson also 
had some of the highest qualities of a successful leader elo- 
quence, honesty and rare courage. Mr. Baxter was an extraor- 
dinary man. His courage and determination were of the highest 
order; in intellect he was equal perhaps, if not superior, to 

With his own political friends, no man had so much influence 
as Andrew Johnson. He had, however, bitter enemies in both 
parties. By his course in opposing secession he had separated 
from a large contingent of his old party friends. But he held a 
large number of Democrats who were by association and party 
affiliation inclined to go off into secession. He held others firm 
in the hour of temptation who could have been kept steady by 
no other man. But he was influential only with his own party. 
The Democratic party was in a minority in each of the three 
Congressional Districts in East Tennessee. The Whigs, who 
constituted the majority, were not accustomed to follow him. 
With them he had neither personal nor political influence. As a 
general rule they were for the Union anyway. They had been 
unmistakably so in the canvass of 1860, while Johnson was advo- 
cating the election of Breckinridge. They hated Johnson as 
they hated no other man, and had looked with cold distrust on 
his sudden change in December, 1860. He had been so bitter and 
brutal in his assaults on them in the past, his conduct as a poli- 
tician had been so narrow and selfish that he was regarded by 
them as being outside of the circle of honorable statesmen. In 


fact, he never gained the full confidence of the Whig element. 
In Greene County, his home, the Whigs, who had long known 
him, seem to have gone into secession as they did in no other 
county. Why was this, unless from fear and distrust of him? 

After his arrival at home from Washington, in the spring of 
1861, Andrew Johnson entered the canvass for the Union with 
vigor and determination. This, it should be remembered, was 
the second canvass in the State. Previous to the election in the 
preceding February East Tennessee had been thoroughly can- 
vassed by local speakers. Mr. Johnson did not make a speech 
to the people until after his return. His position on the ques- 
tion of secession was, however, already known to all intelligent 
people by his speech in the Senate, to which reference will be 
made. But this speech had infinitely more influence in the North 
than it had in East Tennessee, except with his own party friends. 
With them it produced a revolution. 

Horace Maynard did not at that time possess the popularity 
with the mass of the people which he acquired at a later day in 
his brilliant canvass in the State for Congress at large in 1872 
against Johnson and General Cheatham. After the election in 
November he did not make a speech in East Tennessee until 
after his return in March or April, 1861. In the meantime, as in 
the case of both Johnson and Nelson, the overwhelming Union 
victory of February had been won by other men. Maynard 
came home soon after the adjournment of Congress, but was 
not so prompt as Nelson in taking the stump. He did good 
service, however, in the canvass preceding the June election. 
He was a good speaker, but his calm, dispassionate manner was 
not what the hour demanded. 

So far as Mr. Nelson is concerned, he stands on a little differ- 
ent ground. No man has lived in East Tennessee who has more 
largely commanded the confidence of the people. No man has 
lived in the State, except possibly Gentry and W. B. Campbell, 
in whose honesty there was more universal confidence. His 
influence was therefore marked. All parties, even in times of the 
highest excitement, admired him. On the stump he was nearly 
the equal of Johnson, and in fiery eloquence his superior. Nel- 
son came home immediately after the adjournment of Congress, 
and without delay took the stump in defense of the Union. He 
entered the field with a heroic spirit, and never left it until the 
June election. He canvassed nearly all of East Tennessee. But, 


like Johnson and Maynard, he also was absent in Washington 
when the contest of February had taken place, and none of the 
glory of that victory can be given to him. In reference to John- 
son as well as his supporters, each of the three named Johnson, 
Maynard and Nelson it must be remembered that while they 
took no part in the canvass preceding the February election, the 
weight of their names was used in favor of the Union. Neither 
Nelson nor Maynard, however, had electrified the country during 
the late session of Congress b}^ a great, stirring speech in behalf 
of the Union, as Johnson had done, though one year before, on 
the third day of his career in Congress, Nelson had made an 
eloquent speech in the House in defense of the Union, which at 
once gave him national reputation, and which the London Times 
pronounced the "highest product of American oratory." Not- 
withstanding the ability and boldness displa3^ed by Johnson, 
Nelson and Baxter, and in a less degree by other Union leaders, 
no one individual exercised such potent influence upon the minds 
of the old Whigs of East Tennessee as did Brownlow. 

In this critical hour (the spring of 1861) Mr. Johnson's 
speeches were undoubtedly of great service. They helped to 
give courage to the timid and constancy to the vacillating of his 
own party. But I doubt if he made many converts at that late 
day. All his converts were made previously. Nearly every man 
had made up his mind in February. At this stage of the canvass 
(in April and May) the man who had been seized with the blind 
mania of secession was beyond all argument and hope. It was 
a time of wild passion and terror. The triumph of the Union 
men in the February election had been overwhelming. Except- 
ing the influence exerted by the names of these three men John- 
son, Nelson and Maynard and their generally known position 
on this question, and the immense influence exerted by INIr, John- 
son's speech in the Senate, the credit for this splendid victory is 
due to local leaders in the several counties and to the patriotic 
instincts of the people themselves. 

In this work, Mr. Brownlow's paper pla3'ed a most important 
part. The spirit of that dauntless man pervaded everything. 
Of all the leaders, Brownlow was both loved and hated as none 
of the others were. He had a Jacksonian will, and at the same 
time a kindliness of disposition that linked him to men "as with 
hooks of steel." No man in East Tennessee at that time moved 
and swaved friends as he did. This influence was direct and 


personal. It arose from a mixed love and admiration. Through 
his paper for months he addressed larger audiences of people 
than Johnson and Nelson ever commanded. His trumpet gave 
forth no uncertain sound, but warned every man "to prepare 
himself for the battle." 

So, in the contest of 1861 I hesitate but little in saying that 
Brownlow, through his paper and by his example and personal 
popularity, did more to mold and control the Union sentiment 
of East Tennessee than any other single man excepting Johnson. 

The victory of February was won by a set of men compara- 
tively unknown outside of the State, several of whom possessed 
as much courage and nearly as much intellect as the recognized 
leaders. Among the many to whom credit should be given may 
be mentioned Brownlow, Baxter, Trigg, Netherland, Carter, 
Arnold, Milligan, Fletcher, Taylor, Senter, Butler, Brown, 
Deaderick, Fleming, Rodgers, Thornburgh, Swann, Staples, 
Blizzard, Trewhitt, Brabson, Crutchfield, Spears, Clift, Houck, 
and many others. But by far the larger part of the honor of 
winning that splendid victory is due to a small number, chief 
among whom were Brownlow, Baxter, Trigg, Fleming, Arnold, 
Netherland, W. B. Carter, Taylor, and one or two others. 
Unquestionably Johnson, Maynard and Nelson helped, at a 
later day, in the terrible frenzy of the hour, as did many others, 
to keep the Union men from being stampeded into secession. I 
distinctly recognize here and everywhere the wonderful influence 
of Johnson on the Democratic party in that February, as well 
as in that later June election. 

But it was unquestionably the early speakers who did the most 
effective work those of December, January and February, 
who spoke to men who had not yet decided as to their course. 
The pro-slavery sentiment still dominated the minds of men to 
such an extent as to make them timid, if not cowardly. An alli- 
ance with the Republican party was at first so revolting that 
even the warm friends of the Union shrank from it. In the face 
of the hatred entertained by nearly all the Southern people for 
the Abolitionists, it required, at first, the highest moral courage 
to oppose the movement in favor of Southern independence. 

In order to show in the most conclusive manner to whom the 
credit shold be given of making East Tennessee loyal, I repeat 
with emphasis that the Union majority in round numbers was 
more than six thousand greater in the February election than 


it was in that of June, though the question was precisely the 
same in effect in both elections. After the firing on Fort Sumter 
a considerable number of men fell away from the Union cause. 
This defection excited some uneasiness, and the local leaders re- 
doubled their energy, for they were determined to save East 
Tennessee, even if the State were lost. The contest became 
fierce and determined. It raged from Bristol to Chattanooga, 
and soon became red hot along the whole line. It is a noticeable 
fact that the largest Union majorities, the most unanimous 
Union sentiment in East Tennessee, was in the eight or ten 
counties around Knoxville, which felt the influence and heard 
the voices of these less well-known leaders. 

By reason of Mr. Johnson's great influence over the Dem- 
ocrats, it must not be supposed that the Whig Union leaders 
had nothing to do and deserve no credit. Such a conclusion 
would be most erroneous. 

Suppose the canvass of January and February, and I might 
say December also, had depended on what was done by the East 
Tennessee representatives in Congress at Washington, and that 
the local leaders had remained silent, can any man doubt what 
the result would have been.^ The Union cause would have been 
hopelessly lost, and lost, too, beyond the power of man to 
restore it. It is evident, therefore, that Mr. Johnson alone did 
not make East Tennessee loyal to the Union, though he did 
more than any one man, and that he did his part also in keeping 
it loyal no one will deny. The occasion was grand and full of 
awful interest. In the presence of momentous events constantly 
transpiring around him, his faculties and powers seemed to 
expand. He pleaded with thrilling words the cause of his 
country. In power, as a public speaker, Johnson was easily 
the first of the Union leaders in East Tennessee. Never did 
he make such speeches. He literally took his life in his hand. 
Whatever may be thought of him in reference to his subsequent 
acts, he certainly deserved and still deserves the gratitude of his 
countrymen for this brilliant campaign. The grandeur of the 
occasion and the stupendous consequences at issue seemed to 
soften his bitter spirit. He went forward with unfaltering 
steps, and as the gloom thickened he grew more earnest. That 
his speeches at that time were masterly efforts, none who heard 
them ever questioned. At no period of his life was he so 
great certainly at no period did he so completely rise above 


himself. Had he died at the close of this great canvass, he 
would have lived in memory and in history as the ablest de- 
fender of the Union. 

When the three members of Congress returned home, as we 
have seen, the second canvass was on hand. The local leaders 
were already in the field. The fight had gone on from February 
almost without ceasing. The members of Congress found the 
Union men a compact, determined body, solidified and united 
by the work already done. To attempt to make converts at 
that late hour would have been almost hopeless. The utmost 
that could be done was to hold the Union column steady, and 
prevent stampedes, desertions, and straggling. There was much 
hard work yet to be done. The startling and rapidly succeed- 
ing events daily taking place were calculated to unsettle the 
minds of men, and it required constant encouragement and sup- 
port to keep them steady. Under similar conditions, nearly 
the entire population of Middle and West Tennessee had 
deserted in a body almost in a day, going over to secession, 
and so, too, had the large loyal majority in Virginia melted 
away in an hour. Men were astounded by the masterly bold- 
ness of the secessionists, and dazzled and confounded by the 
audacity with which they played the game of revolution. Day 
by day the stars in the bright galaxy of the Union were 
dropping one by one from their accustomed places. Every- 
where in the South loyalty disappeared on that black and 
terrible 12th of April, 1861, but no such falling away occurred 
in East Tennessee. Scarcely a man wavered. 

Lincoln's election, quickly followed by the withdrawal of South 
Carolina and that of other States, bewildered the people. But 
Brownlow stood firm and sent forth encouraging messages 
through his paper. Nearly all the old Whigs took the stump, 
and with a daring vmsurpassed, denounced secession as a crime 
against the liberties of the people. Thus reassured, the people 
remained steadfast in their allegiance to the Union. 

In estimating the relative value of the Union leaders of East 
Tennessee, it should be kept in mind that there were four crises 
in the political situation of this section the first extending from 
November, 1860, to the February election in 1861 ; the second 
extending from February to the June election. These two were 
the most important. During the Presidential canvass the in- 
fluence of Johnson was exerted, whether so intended or not, in 


favor of the Southern movement. His advocacy of the election 
of Breckinridge weakened the Union cause, and correspond- 
ingly strengthened that of secession. On the other hand, all the 
Union leaders before mentioned gave their influence, and some of 
them their active exertions, in behalf of the cause of the Union. 
But after it became manifest that certain Southern States in- 
tended to secede from the Union, Johnson and the other leaders 
co-operated in a common defense of the Union. 

In the third crisis, beginning with President Lincoln's procla- 
mation of emancipation, January 1st, 1863, the leaders divided, 
and there was never again co-operation between them. Early 
in this period Nelson, Baxter, Fleming, and Carter, and not 
long afterward Trigg also, turned away from the administra- 
tion of Lincoln, and gave their support, and all of them, except 
Trigg, their exertions, to the McClellan movement. This move- 
ment was in effect and in fact an attempt to incite a counter 
revolution in the North in aid of the greater one then in progress 
in the South. In Tennessee the contest became bitter and excit- 
ing. It was a new crisis in the political affairs of the State. 
The continued loyalty of the people of East Tennessee de- 
pended largely upon the settlement of the new issues that had 
arisen. The policy of emancipation adopted by President 
Lincoln was, at first especially, a shock to the minds of many 
who had been true to the Union. They began to hesitate and 
waver ; some of them denounced the President, and said they had 
been promised protection for their slaves, and that they did 
not go into war for the purpose of emancipating them. Some 
ofiicers even, who had fought bravely up to that time, resigned 
their commissions, left the army, and denounced the adminis- 
tration and the war. Baxter, Nelson, Carter, and others made 
haste to denounce the policy of Lincoln, and to give their adhe- 
sion to the party opposing him. The breach in the old Union 
party threatened the most serious consequences to its unity. 
Many of the rank and file of the Union men became, as they had 
been in the last days of 1860, uncertain and unsettled as to their 
duty. But fortunately for the country, Johnson, Brownlow, 
Maynard, and other leaders took firm and decided ground in 
favor of the policy of the administration, and by their influence 
and their exertions saved the party from a serious division. A 
few men, following the lead of Nelson, Carter, and Baxter, gave 
their support to MeClellan for the Presidency. 


The fourth period of serious danger came in 1865, or the 
early part of 1866, after Johnson became President, and began 
gradually to withdraw from the Republican party. His steps 
in this direction were so cautious, and his professions of devo- 
tion to the Republican party so profuse, and apparently so 
sincere, that at first many were misled. He was slow in throw- 
ing off the mask in revealing his true purpose. When this 
at last became so manifest that all men could see it, many Union 
men who had been inclined to follow him, and who did follow him 
for a season, turned away and once more became as steadfast 
as in the days of 1861. A considerable number of loyal men 
were enticed into his support by flattery, ofBces, and the hope 
of reward. But the great body of Union men settled back into 
the firm support of the principles which they had so patriotically 
espoused in 1860 and 1861, and for which many of them had 
gallantly fought. It is a striking fact that not only Mr. John- 
son left his friends in 1866, but a majority of the trusted leaders 
who took part in the contest of 1861 Nelson, Netherland, 
Trigg, Baxter, Fleming, Carter, and many others, did the same. 
All the power and patronage of the President were exhausted in 
trying to secure the following of the patriotic people of East 
Tennessee, but nothing could blind them or seduce them from 
their Union faith. During this period the bravest and most con- 
spicuous leader of the Union forces was Mr. Brownlow. When 
it became necessary again to defend the principles of 1861, he 
made no compromise with any human being. He quarreled with 
his old antagonist, Andrew Johnson, and unsparingly denounced 
him as he had done in 1840 and 1844. For his bravery from 
1865 to 1867, during which time the responsibility of leadership 
rested upon him, the nation can never overhonor him. If he 
had given way in 1865, and followed the example of the leaders 
above named, the Union or Republican party of East Tennessee 
would have been hopelessly divided and destroyed. Mr. May- 
nard, too, and some of the old leaders of 1861, as well as many 
new leaders who had sprung up out of the war, deserve honor- 
able mention for their stand for the integrity of the Union party. 

It will be observed that Mr. Johnson, while deserving recogni- 
tion for his efforts in behalf of the Union from December, 1860, 
to 1865, exerted at two periods all his influence in opposition 
to it. So also is it true of the other leaders above mentioned, 
that while they were faithful in 1861, they ceased to be so in 


1864. The only prominent leaders of 1861 who remained faith- 
ful at all periods were Brownlow, Maynard, Arnold, Milligan 
and myself. There was never any wavering in the patriotic 
work of these men. In estimating the comparative permanent 
influence of the different leaders upon the Union cause in East 
Tennessee, and especially upon the Whigs, the first place is un- 
questionably due to Mr. Brownlow. 

In giving Mr. Brownlow the first place among the Whig 
leaders in East Tennessee, I do so with a full knowledge of the 
facts, for I was familiar with all that occurred. Most of these 
leaders I had known almost from my boyhood. The others I 
knew thoroughly. I was an active participant in the campaign 
of 1860. In that which followed the election of Mr. Lincoln, no 
man was more active than I from its opening to its close. I was 
therefore in a position to know what each prominent leader did, 
as well as the value of the services he rendered. The opinion 
here expressed is based upon actual knowledge of all that took 
place, from the first public meeting in December, 1860, to the 
close of the canvass in June, 1861. I also knew the power of 
all these leaders as speakers, knew their relative influence with 
the people, and knew the people and the motives which moved 
and swayed them. 

It must be kept in mind that Mr. Brownlow edited the organ 
of the party; that his paper went into nearly every neighbor- 
hood in East Tennessee ; that it was read by hundreds, if not 
by thousands, who were not subscribers. With most of these 
readers the paper was not only an organ, but an oracle, and 
they followed its teachings with unquestioned faith. Browii- 
low's popularity was totally unlike that of the other prominent 
men. Johnson was strong with his party because of his bitter- 
ness, his boldness, and his intellectual strength, but his real 
friends were not numerous. Nelson was strong by reason 
of his noble personality his courage, his ability, and his in- 
tegrity. But he was a student and never courted applause, nor 
was he followed by the huzzas of the populace. Maynard was 
admired for his talents, and like Nelson, for his purity of char- 
acter. But at that time his personal following was not so great 
as it became afterward. On the other hand, men were attached 
to Brownlow by a blind personal devotion, and they followed 
him with an enthusiastic love, such as the clansmen of Scotland 
formerly bestowed on their Highland Chiefs. He was the hero 


of the common people of East Tennessee in 1861, and with 
them his personal influence far exceeded that of any other man. 

Looking back to the canvass of 1861, after the lapse of 
forty years, it can be seen that the minds of men on both sides 
were carried away by passion, and were little inclined to listen 
to reason. They could only see one side, and that in the 
strongest possible light. Reason was overthrown. I have al- 
ready pointed out in another work the utter madness of the 
whole secession scheme the amazing infatuation and folly of 
its conception and attempted execution. But strange to say, the 
Union leaders of East Tennessee, and perhaps elsewhere also, 
seem to have been carried away with a kind of passion, not so 
great as that of the secessionists, yet still such as partially 
blinded them to certain facts forming a large element in the con- 
sideration of the questions of the hour. They denounced seces- 
sion as a crime without a single circumstance to justify it. The}^ 
overlooked the importance of the repeated violations of the Con- 
stitution by Personal Liberty Bills, and the defiance of the Fugi- 
tive Slave Law in certain Northern States. In fair discussion 
of the issue of secession, the consideration of these questions 
can scarcely be overlooked. Notwithstanding these circum- 
stances a number of reasons can be given why it was most un- 
wise to attempt to dissolve the Union. 

Mr. Stephens, in his noted speech at Milledgeville, had dis- 
cussed this very point. He insisted that the Southern States 
should not withdraw from the Union, without first making a 
solemn demand, through a regular Embassy, for the redress 
of the wrong and the removal of the grievance. He pointed 
out that this was the course pursued in such cases by inde- 
pendent powers, and that it ought to be adopted in the case of 
a sister, though sovereign. State, in reference to the violation 
of the compact of the Union. In substance, this was the 
answer that Mr. Stephens had given to the demand for immedi- 
ate secession in Georgia, and it was unanswerable. It was be- 
lieved at the time that the Northern States could be induced to 
repeal their laws unfriendly to the institution of slavery. Be- 
fore the firing on Sumter, Congress had proposed and passed 
an amendment to the Constitution, which needed only a ratifi- 
cation by a Constitutional majority to render slaver}^ perpetual 
in the States where it then existed, except by the consent of the 
people interested in the question. It is therefore insisted that 


the action of the seceding States was hasty and unwise, in at- 
tempting to withdraw from the Union until the hist resource 
of diplomacy had heen exhausted. It is evident that diplomacy 
would have heen futile in December. But in February and 
March, when seven States had seceded and four or five others 
were likely to do so, a condition had arisen that caused thought- 
ful people all over the North, as well as in the non-seceding 
States in the South, solemnly to pause. There was everywhere a 
demand for a settlement, a compromise, an adjustment by Con- 
stitutional provisions and guaranties that would forever settle all 
vexed questions, and leave the institution of slavery so securely 
entrenched in the Constitution as to remove all apprehension in 
reference to its future safety. The great body of the Northern 
people, in their fright at the appalling prospect of civil war, 
stood Avith arms open imploring the people of the seceding States 
to come back, assuring them of the most ample protection for 
their slaves. Mr. Lincoln, in his immortal Inaugural Address, in 
affectionate and pathetic words, entreated the South to stay its 
hands, declaring, "We are not enemies, but friends." Unless 
the indications were most delusive, the South could have obtained 
at that time all the reasonable compensations and guaranties 
needed. But at this critical hour, when abolition was virtually 
hushed by the mighty voice of patriotism, evoked by the coun- 
try's extreme peril, a fatal shot was fired at Sumter, which was 
heard sounding ominously round the world. As the noise of 
that shot died away upon the air and upon the sea, all hope of 
peace died with it. 

Secession proved to be from every point of view a sad mistake. 
If the secession States had waited until they had exhausted every 
remedy; if the Northern States, after solemn remonstrances 
had failed to repeal their obnoxious laws ; if they had still mani- 
fested an unmistakable determination to render nugatory the 
Fugitive Slave Law, the seceding States would have stood before 
the w^orld in their fight as the defenders of the Constitution. 
There would have been much force in the claim that they were 
fighting to preserve that sacred instrument. Yet in the light 
of the past, it was an unwise issue to invoke the arbitrament 
of war. Secession proved to be no remedy for the existing evil, 
as the Union leaders earnestly insisted it was not. Slavery, 
the issue of contention, perished in the conflict. 

In civil war, such as that of 1861-65, it is most unfor- 


tunate for one part of a State to be arrayed against another 
part, for a minority to be in opposition to a majority. The 
evil growing out of the division in East Tennessee during the 
late Civil War can never be estimated. These evils have fallen 
mainly on the unflinching Union men, and they are likely to 
continue for generations to come. They were as honest as men 
could be. What possible motive could they have had for being 
dishonest in their course? All the prominent leaders, except- 
ing one, were, as their ancestors had been. Southern born. 
In interest and sympathy, in association and education, they 
were Southern. All but two were slave owners and friends of 
the institution of slavery. They had no s^^mpathy with abo- 
lition or abolitionists. They believed that secession, whether suc- 
cessful or unsuccessful, would prove a dire calamity to the South. 
And they were right. The supreme object of the fight 
slavery disappeared while the contest still went on, accom- 
panied by untold evils. These Union leaders today stand vin- 
dicated by the result, and by the calm, better judgment of 
their enemies. The condemnation at the present time of the 
secession movement by a majority of those engaged in it, ought 
to be sufficient vindication of those who opposed it. 

In giving in the list that follows, the names of the prominent 
Union leaders in the several counties of East Tennessee no 
doubt I have omitted many persons worthy of being mentioned. 
But it must be kept in mind as an act of justice to myself, 
that, with the exception of Knox and Sevier counties, and 
Blount to a limited extent, I have had to rely upon citizens 
of the several counties to furnish me lists of names. So, with 
the exceptions named, I am not censurable for the omission of 
names which ought to appear and are worthy of honorable 
mention. It will be observed that no names are given for Cocke 
County. The reason is that I have been unable to get anyone 
to furnish me a list of names, although I have written several 
letters to prominent men requesting such lists. For the same 
reason I am able to furnish only a partial list in several 
counties. It is a source of deep regret that owing to this fact 
and to my limited space, I am unable to give in detail, or even 
mention, the services of many Union men deserving recog- 
nition. To do so, would swell my book beyond a reasonable 


Johnson County. Hon. Roderick R. Butler, A. D. Smith, 
Rev. Lewis Venable, John H. Vaught, Richard L. Wilson, M. 
M. Wagner, J. W. M. Grayson, G. H. Shoun, John Murphy, 
I. E. Northington. 

Sullivan County. Dr. M. W. A. Willoughly, E. A. Mill- 
ard, Campbell E. Warner, Joshua Hamilton, Hugh Fain, 
Thomas Fain, John H. Fain, Samuel Pearce, Joel N. Barker, 
Andrew Gibson, Thomas Buchanan, William Dickson, Andrew 
Leslie, John Buller, Daniel B. Wegler, William Pearrey, Wil- 
liam Mullinix, Rev. Joseph Spurgeon, Eli Anderson, Rev. W. 
G. Barker, James A. Neal, Dr. Geo. W. Patton, John W. Falls, 
Samuel Snapp, Samuel Cloud, Dr. R. L. Stanford, James Lynn, 
G. A. Netherland. 

Carter County. Rev. Wm. B. Carter, Nathaniel G. Tay- 
lor, Abram Tipton, C. P. Toncry, Colonel J. P. T. Carter, 
Colonel Daniel L. Stover, Hon. Elijah Simmerly, Jackson 
Fellers, Colonel John K. Miller, Dan. Ellis, Albert J. Tipton, 
Samuel W. Williams, Dr. J. M. Cannon, Lafayette Cannon, 
Dr. A. Jobe, Rev. J. H. Hyder, Samuel A. Cunningham, P. M. 
Williams, Valentine Bowers, S. P. Angel, S. W. Scott. 

Washington County. Judge T. A. R. Nelson, Judge Seth 
J. W. Lucky, Judge A. J. Brown, Judge S. T. Logan, Judge J. 
W. Deaderick, Dr. Samuel Cunningham, Dr. Wm. R. Sevier, 
John A. Wilds, William Dawes, David T. Wilds, S. T. Shipley, 
Samuel Griffith, Dr. J. D. Gibson, George McPherson, John 

D. Cox, Henry Hoss, George W. Telford, Dr. W\ M. Bovell, 

E. L. Mathes, Alexander Mathes, Samuel M. Mitchell, W. M. 
Mitchell, "Addy" Broyles, G. W. Nelson, John T. Baskett, 
Colonel S. K. N. Patton, M. S. Mahoney, John F. Grisham, 
Nathan Shipley, John B. Hunt, Hiram Hale, Peter Reeves, 
Henry Johnson, Samuel H. Miller, Isaac Hartsell, Calvin Hoss, 
Bird Brown, Edward H. West, M. P. Boring, R. M. Young, 
William M. McKee, Dr. William Smith, James B. Strain, Payne 
Squibb, Dr. Richard Humphreys, Ebenezer Barkly, China 

Greene County. Hon. Andrew Johnson, Thomas D. 
Arnold, Judge Samuel Milligan, Judge David T. Patterson, R. 
A. Crawford, Jas. P. ]\IcDowel, James Britton, George Jones, 
Henry B. Baker, M. L. Patterson, Anthony Rankin, Jacob 
Bible, Chris Bible, Samuel Steel, Leland Davis, Charles Brown, 
William Brown, William Shields, Samuel Henry, Richard 


Susong, Marshal Hartman, Daniel Smith, Samuel Stevens, Abe 
Johnson, Matt G. Fellers, Bayless Jones, James Jones, Jona- 
than Easterly, A. W. Walker, William Ruble, John Bible, Billy 
Bible, George Kinney, Jacob Meyers, Daniel Kelley, Thomas 
Davis, Barney Cooter, Humphrey Wells, Thomas Johnson, 
Anthony Moore, James W. Galbraith, David Dobson, Abner 
Beals, Solomon Good, John Beals, William Ellis, A. M. Piper, 
William McAmis, T. K. Cox, John McGaughey, W^illiam S. 
McGaughey, Calvin Dobson, Azar Koontz, Neil Hardin, 
Charles Gass, Jacob Carter, Samuel Keller, William Reed, R. 
C. Carter, Mordica Harmon, Absalom Gray, Jerry McMillan, 
Enoch Moore, James Maloney, Abraham Carter, Calvin Smith, 
Robert Kite, Shady Babb, James G. Reeves, Dr. G. A. Nelson, 
James F. Nelson, James Lane (pilot and leader of refugees). 

HAV^^KINs County. Hon. John Netherland, W. C. Kyle, 
A. P. Kyle, Hon. Chas. J. McKinney, Hon. William Simpson, 
A. P.Caldwell, James White, S.D. Brooks, John Blevins, Joseph 
R. Armstrong, W. W. Willis, Crawford W. Hall, Elias Beal, 
Radham Chestnutt, H. G. Flagg, Robert Netherland, George 
W. Huntsman, Judge E. E. Gillenwaters, William Green, 
Joseph Eckle, James Walker, Hugh Cain, David Kirkpatrick, 
W. R. Pearson, Harry Vance, William Keener, Richard 

Hancock County. Major W. B. Davis, L. W. Jarvis, 
Henry Tyler. 

Claiborne County. Vincent Meyers, James J. Bunch, 
John M. Vanbebber, Wiley Huffaker, E. E. Jones, J. J. Sewell, 
Houston Sewell, Walter R. Evans, Hugh Farmer, H. H. 

Grainger County. Hon. D. W. C. Senter, Edward L. 
Tate, Charles C. Smith, James James, C. M. Dyer, George H. 
Greene, John Brooks, Joel Dyer, Michael McGuire, Harmon 
G. Lea. 

Jefferson County. Hon. Montgomery Thornburgh, 
Judge James P. Swann, William Gailbraith, George Hoskins, 
Samuel P. Johnson, William Harris, George M. Elliott, 
Samuel J. Newman, M. Looney Peck, Chris C. Carey, Dr. 
Archibald Blackburn, James Monroe Meek, J. M. Meek, Adam 
K. Meek, Colonel D. G. Thornburgh, Major Russ Thornburgh. 

Sevier County. Dr. R. H. Hodsden, Samuel Pickens, 
Edmond Hodges, Andrew Lawson, W. C. Pickens, Charles 


Inman, Dr. W. H. Trotter, John Trotter, Henry C. Hodges, 
Wilson Duggan, James M. Murphy, J. C. Murphy, Dr. J. M. 
Hammer, Wm, Catlett, Dr. James H. Ellis, Daniel Keener, Har- 
vey Keener, William E. Hodges, Rev. James Cummings. 

Blount County. Rev. Wm. T. Dowell, Rev. John S, Craig, 
Rev. Thomas J. Lamar, Hon. John F. Henry, John W. H. 
Tipton, Andrew Kirckpatrick, William J. Hackney, Iredell D. 
Wright, Captain James Henry, Harold Foster, William Mc- 
Teer, Montgomery McTeer, Stephen Matthews, Iredel Wright, 
Spencer Henry, W. L. Dearing, Solomon Farmer, David God- 
dard, Wm. Goddard, Andrew McBath, Robert Eagleton, W. H. 
Cunningham, James H. Rowan. 

Knox County, William G. Brownlow, John Baxter, 
Horace Maynard, O. P. Temple, C. F. Trigg, Perez Dickinson, 
Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Humes, John Williams, John M. 
Fleming, James H. Cowan, Robert H. Armstrong, Dr. Joseph 

C. Strong, A. G. Jackson, Judge Samuel R. Rodgers, John J. 
Craig, E. J. San ford, James S. Boyd, Samuel Morrow, David 
Richardson, Thomas Rodgers, Dr. William A. Rodgers, Caleb 
Baker, David Burnett, Samuel A. Rodgers, Samuel McCammon 
(Red), Dr. James Rodgers . Jacob Doyle, W. C. Doyle, Samuel 
Bowman, Peter Derieux, A. C. Callan, Dr. Robert Sneed, 
W. H, Carter, Andrew Knott, Levi McCloud, Absalom Bur- 
nett, James H. IVIorris, John Tunnell, John Roberts, Thomas 
Boyd, William Rodgers, James Martin Rodgers, James Ster- 
ling, Alexander Reeder, W. H. Swan, James C. Luttell, I\I. L. 
Hall, Joseph Parsons, Rufus M. Bennett, Joseph W. Fowler, 
W. C. Carnes, T. W. Carnes, J. F. Bunker, Calvin Mynatt, 
Jefferson Harris, Murphy. 

Anderson County. James Ross, John Whitson, John C. 
Chiles, Wm, Cross, Alfred Cross, Samuel C. Young. Judge 

D. K. Young, L. C. Houk, D. A, Carpenter, John Leinart, 
R, H. Coward, W. W. Wallace, James A. Doughty. 

Union County, J. W. Baker, John Fuller Huddleston, 
Francis Huddleston, Christian Ousley, M. V. Nash, Jesse G. 
Palmer, Emanuel Miller, William Rogers, Kelly Rogers, Isaac 
C. D^^er, Rice Snodderly, L. R. Carden, William Hawn, R. J. 
Carr, John C. Baker, John Sharp, Jacob Sharp, Presney 
Buckner, Isaac Bolinger, Robert Russell, Henry Stiner, Eli 
Stiner, John E. Sharp, Rev. William Hinkle, B. F. Skaggs, 
Rev. William Williams, Dr. J. W. Thornburg, J. M. Sawyers, 


Isaac Bayless, Dr. S. H. Smith, L. Huddleston, F. P. Hansard, 
A. McPheters. 

Campbell County. Hon. F. H. Bratcher, R. D. Wheeler, 
William Carey, Dr. David Hart, Joshua A. Cooper, Jonathan 
Lindsay, Reuben Rogers, Dr. John Jones, Alfred Dossett, 
George McFarland, Elias Bowman, Lew McNew, Miss Sue 
Carey, Dr. J. H. Agee, George Bowling, J. L, Keeney, Wm. 
Bobbins, Joseph Hatmaker. 

Scott County. Captain John W. Smith, Riley Cecil, 
James Sanhusky, Joel Parker, Major James S. Duncan, Cap- 
tain John Newport, Captain Wm. Robbins, "Jack" Brown, 
James L. Chitwood, Captain Wayne W. Cotton, Captain J. J. 
Duncan, Captain Dennis Trammels, Bailey Buttram, John 
Phillips, William Cecil. 

Morgan County. Tolliver Staples, Ephraim Langley, 
James A. Duncan, James M. Melton, John H. Byrd, M. 
Stephens, John Hall, James Peters, Julian Scott, Samuel C. 

Roane County. Robert K. Bird (Colonel of 1st Tenn- 
essee Regiment), Dr. John W. Wester, Dr. James W. Lee, 
Samuel L. Childress, Rev. John Y. Smith, Rev. W. P. Lowery, 
Absalom Adkinson, Samuel Owings, W. J. Owings, Thomas J. 
Mason, Dr. R. P. Eaton, Mitchell Rose, F. "Cabe" Young, 
R. W. Boyd, J. T. Shelley, W. M. Alexander, J. W. Bowman, 

D. F. Harrison, W. S. Patton. 

Cumberland County. A. C. Yates, F. Kindred. 
Monroe County. Wm. Heiskell, Daniel Heiskell, Robert 
Snead, J. F. Owen, D. H. Cleveland, Charles Owen, S. P. Hale, 

E. A. Taylor, Gilburn Snead, W. H. Dawson, Wm. M. Smith, 
J. R. Robinson, Samuel M. Johnson. 

Polk County. W. M. Biggs, J. M. McCleary, Wm. J. 

MclMiNN County. John INIcGaughey, Thos. B. McElwee, 
Charles Cate, Dr. M. R. May, N. J. Peters, A. Hutsell, Judge 
G. W. Bridges, William G. Horton, Dr. E. Daniel, William 
Reynolds, Geo. Hutsell, Jacob Gilhut, .James Gettys, William 
M. Sehorn, John H. Slover, David Cleage, Richard M. Fisher, 
William Burnes, Horace Bryent, Hill Buttram, James Howe, 
Robert Cochran, E. A. Atlee, Joseph Matthews, Jacob 
Matthews, M. L. Phillips, Rev. John Wilkins, J. H. Hornsby, 
Arch Blizzard, Dr. William W. Alexander, Doc Crow, Charles 


Bogart, Oliver Dodson, William Dodson, Nathan Kelly, H. 
Rider, William Bunke, J. H. Magill, the Parkinsons, the 

Bradley County. Levi Trewhitt, Dr. William Hunt, Dr. 
John G. Brown, Allen Master, C. D. Champion, Thos. L. Cate, 
Stephen Beard, R. M. Edwards, Jesse H. Gaut, John McPhcr- 
son, A. C. Clingan, P. L. Matthews, D. D. Taylor, John F. 
Kinchelow, Sidney Wise, J. S. Bradford, A. J. Cate, R. D. 
Julien, William Pearsley, John Hambright, Ben Hambright, 
G. R. Hambright, Samuel Parks, James Parks, William Pal- 
mer, Montgomery Heebler, John Heebler, James F. Cleveland, 
Rev. George Julien, Rev. John Julien, Rev. Samuel Julien, 
Baldwin Cate, Welcome Beard, E. Ramsey, John Blackburn. 

Meigs County. T. J. Matthews, Thomas Miller, Andrew 
Campbell, Thomas Sessell. 

Rhea County. James W. Gillespie, William Monger, 
Washington Monger. 

Marion County. Robert Roulston, David Rankin, G. W. 
Duane, William Pryor. 

Hamilton County. William Clift, A. M. Cate, D. C. Tre- 
whitt, William Crutchfield, A. A. Pearson, John H. James, 
James R. Hood, E. B. James, Presley T. Lomenic (a noted 
guide), Hon. Reese B. Brabson, George W. Rider, Jesse M. Ra- 
gan, William Crowder, Monroe Masterson, E. H. Cleveland, J. 
D. Kenner, E. M. Cleveland. 

Bledsoe County. General James G. Spears, Hon. Thomas 
N. Frazier, A. L. Pitts, A. H. McReynolds, Isaac Robertson. 

Sequatchie County. AVashington Heard, Marion Herson. 


Born Two Years After Tennessee Became a State Served Under Jack- 
sonAdmitted to Bar, 3822 Defeated for Congress, 1827 and 1829 
Elected, 1831. Though Anti-.Jackson Moved to Greeneville Defeated 
by Blair, 1835 Elector. ] 840 Encounter with Felix Grundy at Greene- 
vhie At Rogersville Next Day In Congress Again, 1841-43 Second 
Time, District Changed to Defeat Him Attitude in 1861- Success in 
Jury Causes Peculiarly p:inotional Nature. 

Thomas D. Arnold stood out. by himself with a clear and 
a distinct individuality. No one altogether like him has lived 
in the State, and probably ever will. No one could have run 
the career he ran, and have created the impression upon his 
generation that he did, without some measure of greatness. He 
was a native of Virginia, born May 3, 1798 two years after 
Tennessee became a State and died :May 6, 1870. His father 
was in humble circumstances, therefore his education was 
limited. Yet, in after life he had so overcome these disad- 
vantages that his deficiences were scarcely perceptible. When 
quite a lad he served as a Volunteer soldier in the War of 1812, 
under General Jackson. Some years later he studied law, and 
was admitted to the Bar in 1822. Aggressiveness and native 
ability soon gave him a respectable clientage. His ambition 
was boundless. In 1827 he became a candidate for Congress 
against Pryor Lee, a man of ability and worth, but was de- 
feated. Again in 1829 he was a candidate, with the same 
result. But in 1831 his popularity enabled him to defeat his 
former competitor, and to secure the coveted prize. In those 
days parties had not taken on very distinct names. Men were 
divided into parties by leaders rather than by issues. Arnold 
was admitted to the bar in 1822. Aggressiveness and native 
called a Whig. He boldly and defiantly denounced the admin- 
istration of General Jackson, and made personal war upon 
him. The overpowering popularity of General Jackson in 
Tennessee, and this open opposition to him on the part of 
Arnold, fully accounts for his first two defeats. In 1828 he 
was an ardent supporter of John Quincy Adams for the 
Presidency, and in 1832 he again opposed General Jackson, 



and at that day few public men had the courage to oppose the 
iron will of the hero of New Orleans. During Arnold's term 
in Congress, 1831-33, he acquired almost a national notoriety. 
During this term the Legislature changed his district, attach- 
ing Jefferson and Cocke Counties, where his greatest popu- 
larity existed, to the first district, then and for a long time 
previously represented by John Blair, Arnold was too proud 
spirited to submit to defeat in this manner in his ambitious 
scheme for Congressional honors. He therefore determined to 
change his residence to the first district, and to become a candi- 
date against Blair. Accordingly, he moved to Greeneville, and 
entered the race of 1833 against the able representative who 
had so long represented that district. The contest was warm 
and in some respects bitter. But Blair was still too firmly 
entrenched in the confidence and affections of the people of that 
district to be overthrown by a comparative stranger and was 
elected. In 1835 Arnold was again a candidate for Congress, 
and had for competitors Blair, Wm. B. Carter, and Alex- 
ander Anderson. The contest was long and exceedingly ani- 
mated, not to say bitter, and resulted in Blair's re-election. 

After these repeated defeats for Congress, Arnold gave up 
for the time at least, his political aspirations, and returned to 
the bar. He soon became one of the leading lawyers of that 
section, and his practice became large and lucrative. He con- 
tinued to follow his profession with great energ}"^ and industry 
until the first guns were fired in the notable political contest of 
1840. The sound of these shots awakened in Arnold his old 
political ambition, and like a war-steed he panted for the coming 
battle. By the unanimous voice of the Whig party of his 
district, he was chosen Presidential elector on the Harrison 
ticket. He entered the canvass in February or March with all 
the enthusiasm of a young man, and laid off his armor only 
after the victory of the November following. Bravely and ef- 
ficiently he fought for the success of his ticket, with a zeal 
unsurpassed by that of any other man. Like an armored knight 
of old, he was ready to meet any champion, however great, 
who chose to enter the lists. No Democratic orator came into 
his district without being forced to encounter that redoubtable 
Whig. Numberless were the battles he fought, and while he 
was not always victorious, many were the victories he won. 


General Arnold proved in this campaign a hospitable man. 
He met on the border of his district every Democratic orator 
who approached, and never left him until he had departed, ex- 
changing with him on the stump such compliments as were 
then in fashion. With knightly courtesy he welcomed the com- 
ing and speeded the parting guest, giving him always a warm 
reception. I venture to say that no one ever left his district 
without a vivid recollection of the entertainment he had received. 
It had been varied, piquant, and highly seasoned. 

Among those whom Arnold met in debate was the celebrated 
Felix Grundy. In 1840 this renowned orator, in returning 
from his public duties in Washington to his home in Nashville, 
made a few of his almost matchless speeches in East Tennessee, 
advocating the re-election of Van Buren. In Greeneville, and 
at two or three other points, Arnold asked and obtained a 
division of time. The crowd present at Greeneville was im- 
mense, composed almost exclusively of Democrats from adjoin- 
ing counties. They were the real rampant, shouting type of 
Democrats, and only a stout-hearted Whig could face such 
a multitude of defiant stalwarts. But Arnold had no fear, and 
their shouts did not intimidate him. In order to emphasize 
the republican simplicity of the Whig party, as illustrated by 
General Harrison, in contrast with the almost royal preten- 
sions of the Democratic party, so absurdly alleged in that 
canvass of ridiculous extravagances, Arnold had arrayed him- 
self in a suit of yellow nankeen, with blue, white, yellow, and 
perhaps red stripes. His appearance was picturesque in the 
extreme. Grundy was, on the other hand, dressed elegantly 
and faultlessly with a flaunting ruffled shirt, the style at that 
time, with large diamond studs, and wearing a large showy 
seal ring on his hand. Arnold was thrust forward to speak 
before Grundy, but after Harvey Watterson, or Hopkins L. 
Turney, both members of Congress and traveling companions 
of Grundy. To show the aristocratic habits of the Democratic 
party, Arnold in his speech, pointed, in a triumphant manner, 
to the ruffles, the gold ring, and diamond studs of Grundy. 
Had he been speaking to a Whig crowd on this point, his 
speech would have been rapturously received. But there were 
no Whigs present. The royal tendencies of Van Buren, the 
"gold spoon of fiction," and "Prince John Van Buren's dancing 


with Queen Victoria," were at that time everywhere proclaimed 
by Whig orators, and Arnold publicly referred to these. When 
Grundy came to reply, Arnold was considerably disfigured, and 
received some severe political wounds. Such wit, such humor, 
such sarcasm, and such pathos, are seldom heard. Grundy 
said among other things : "If I were young and handsome as 
my friend is [ironically], I could wear anything, even the ring- 
streaked, striped, and speckled suit, like Laban's sheep, in 
which he is arrayed, and which so admirably suits him, and so 
well represents the principles of his party. But I am old, my 
hair is white, my face is furrowed with wrinkles, and it has lost 
the ruddy bloom of youth so beautifully marked on my friend's 
face. [Mr. Arnold's face was scarlet.] I am going to my 
old friends and constituents. I have put on the best I could 
find as a compliment to them. I wish to show them the highest 
respect in my power. The best is not equal to their merits. 
I go to them arrayed in the best possible way, to hide, as far 
as possible, the hideous ravages of old age." Thus he continued 
with iron}', ridicule, and pathos for half an hour. Before the 
finish there was not a man in all the vast assemblage but felt 
that Grundy was paying a most delicate compliment to the 
proud people of Tennessee by his elegant attire, which Arnold 
had attempted to ridicule. 

In the meantime, Arnold, in his zebra-like suit of yellow 
nankeen, standing upon the platform, in full view of five or 
ten thousand people, interjected from time to time, in a loud 
voice, happy and witty replies. As Grundy, in the most in- 
imitable manner, and with consummate irony, criticised the dress 
of Arnold, pointing out its resemblance to the diversified prin- 
ciples of the Whig party, the crowd of shouting Democrats 
sent up a noise that shook the very foundations of the hills 
around. The sound of ten Niagaras would have been silenced 
by the shouts of this mighty multitude ! But all this did not 
disturb Arnold. He still continued to "talk back," to inter- 
ject quick, sharp replies. At length Grundy, turning upon 
him, said: "General Arnold, you are the noisiest man I ever 
met. By the old common law, it took two or more disorderly 
persons to create a riot, but j'ou can create a riot by yourself." 
But even this did not silence Arnold. A peculiarity of his 
was that he did not know when he was whipped, and therefore 


never was whipped. The wounds he received, like those inflicted 
on the ethereal spirits of Milton, healed as soon as given, and 
left no pain nor scar. 

At Rogersville, next day, Arnold got more than even with 
Grundy. In his way he triumphed gloriously. Not in the 
least discouraged by the result of the discussion at Greene- 
ville, he had followed Grundy to Rogersville. The latter was 
speaking in the court house when Arnold arrived. He had 
been overtaken by a rain and was muddy and dirty. The 
thin nankeen suit was wet, and had drawn up and stuck to 
him as though he had grown in it. Certainly he was a curious 
sight. Boldly entering the courtroom door, he cried out at 
the top of his shrill voice: "Here I am again," at the same 
time demanding a division of time. This was promptly re- 
fused. "To the street, to the street !" shouted Arnold to the 
Whigs. Instantly half the crowd was rushing tumultuously to- 
ward the street, yelling and shouting as it went. Quickly Arnold 
was mounted on a dry-goods box, across the street, opposite the 
court house where Grundy was speaking. Here he called out 
for a Whig song. At once a great number of little campaign 
songbooks were pulled from the pockets of the crowd. Then 
hundreds of voices, pitched in the highest key, burst forth sing- 
ing one of the campaign songs of that day, all joining in the 
chorus. By this time many of Grundy's friends were quitting 
the court house, attracted by the unearthly noise on the street. 
The song was followed by three cheers for "old Tippecanoe 
and Tj^ler too." Arnold spoke for a while in his vehement, 
inflammatory manner, then stopping, he called for another 
refreshing Whig song, and so he went on until Grundy's 
crowd had nearly disappeared. The latter at length cut short 
his speech, and hurrying to the hotel, he and his party ordered 
their carriage, which quickly entering, they started to their 
next appointment. Arnold was still on his goods box, con- 
ducting his varied exercises. Seeing Grundy's carriage ap- 
proaching, he cried out in an earnest, imploring manner : "Get 
out of the way, get out of the way there, you common people, 
or those lordly aristocrats will drive right over you! Get out 
of the way !" Thereupon a lane was made through the crowd, 
and the carriage passed on, saluted by another Whig song. 
Such were the scenes daily witnessed in Tennessee, especially 


wherever Arnold was present, in the memorable and tumultuous 
campaig-n of 184!0.* 

The prestige won by Arnold, and the faithful work he had 
done in the canvass of 1840, so endeared him to the great body 
of his party in his district that, in 1841, he was almost uni- 
versally looked to as the legitimate candidate for Congress. A 
feeble effort was made to induce another man to run against 
him for the nomination and he actually was nominated by a 
small fraction of the party unfriendly to Arnold. But this 
man was too sensible, too discreet to accept a nomination 
with inevitable defeat staring him in the face. Arnold had 
thus a clear field and was overwhelmingly elected. He served 
in the Congress of 1841-43 amid the stirring scenes of these 
memorable 3'ears with greater celebrity than he had hitherto 
attained. It may well be imagined from the aggressiveness 
and the boldness of Arnold, that his voice was not silent amid 
the clash and din and uproar of that extraordinary terra of 
Congress, when the dauntless Clay, in the very zenith of his 
career, was leading the Whig party. Arnold was an ardent 
admirer and follower of Clay, and, it is said, a warm friend- 
ship grew up between them. 

Arnold seemed firmly seated in the long-cherished desire of 
his heart a seat in Congress. He was popular with the 
masses, with the voting portion of the Whig party of his 
district, and but for circumstances beyond his control would 

During this canvass Clay visited Nashville to make a speech at the 
great mass-meeting held there, where it was said forty thousand people 
were present. S. S. Prentiss was there also. Clay naturally inquired 
about his old friend and rival, Grundy. He was told that he was making 
speeches for Van Buren. "Oh, I see," exclaimed Clay ; "still following 
his old profession defending criminals." Felix Grundy was a most suc- 
cessful criminal lawyer. As he had been Attorney General of the United 
States under Van Buren, he must have been a good civil lawyer also. 
Be that as it may, he was unquestionably a very noted orator, possibly 
the greatest the State has ever had, excepting William T. Haskell. His 
style of speaking was soft, persuasive and incisive, captivating and irre- 
sistible. It was a stream of crystal water, flowing and rippling over a 
pebbly bottom through green meadows and woodlands, rather than a 
headlong mountain torrent. A handsome man, of fine person, he pos- 
sessed every faculty and endowment of the orator. After Hugh Lawson 
White quarreled with General Jackson, Grundy became the President's 
defender and his right arm in the Senate. Such gentle, delightful oratory 
I have never heard. Felix Grundy is one of the men of whom the people 
of Tennessee are justly proud. 


doubtless have had a succession of terms in the House. Other 
men, however, not of the Whig party, were as anxious as 
Arnold for Congressional honors. Both Andrew Johnson and 
Landon C. Haynes had for some time been casting longing 
eyes in the direction of Washington, and it happened that the 
former was a member of the Legislature of 1841-42, which 
re-districted the State. Johnson was artful enough to have 
carved out for himself a Democratic district, such as suited 
him, and to cut off from it the County of Jefferson, in which, 
as before stated, Arnold had his greatest popularity, and to 
add to it Sullivan and other Democratic counties. Thus, by 
two Legislatures, Arnold's district had been changed in order 
to defeat him. He was for the second time, in the midst of 
greatest popularity, driven to private life by hostile legisla- 
tion. With decided Whig principles and the avowal of them, 
there was no earthly chance of his election to Congress for the 
next ten years in that district, so he returned to the practice 
of his profession, which he assiduously and successfully fol- 
lowed, with brief intervals, until his death. Once during this 
time, perhaps in 1855, he was a candidate for the State Senate, 
and was defeated, but by what majority and for what cause 
it is immaterial to state. 

When secession presented itself in this State in 1861, with 
all its fury and bitterness, Arnold stood like a bulwark for 
the preservation of the old Government, endeared to him by 
services as a soldier in the War of 1812. No man in all the 
land was more earnest or more unflinching, and few brought 
to bear in its defense stronger or more persuasive arguments. 
Everywhere, when occasion permitted, his voice was heard 
in no uncertain tones, in favor of the Union. His splendid 
speech in the Knoxville Convention, in May, 1861, of which 
an account is given in another book, was perhaps the most 
masterly effort of his life. It was indeed a great speech. 
Thomas D. Arnold justly deserves mention among the noted 
union leaders of East Tennessee. 

After the close of the War Mr. Arnold continued the prac- 
tice of his profession with unabated zeal, until his sudden death 
while attending Court at Jonesboro, in 1870, in the seventy- 
second year of his age. At this advanced age he seemed to 
have lost none of the vigor nor force of mind which had char- 


acterlzed him in the days of his early robust manhood. He 
was still alert, bright, athletic, aggi-essive. He possessed by 
nature a wonderful constitution. 

Thomas D. Arnold was neither a learned nor an exact law- 
yer. He knew imperfectly a good deal of law, but this knowl- 
edge was fragmentary and detached. He did not know the law 
as a science nor as a whole, but was an able and successful advo- 
cate, in this respect few men in Tennessee being his superior. 
For twenty years he constantly came in contact with such 
lawyers as the McKinneys, Nelson, and Netherland, and victory 
fell sometimes to one, sometimes to another. He was on one 
side of nearly every important jury case in the courts where 
he practiced, and no lawyer, however able, expected to gain 
an easy success over him. Arnold's knowledge of human na- 
ture, of the motives, feelings, and instincts of men, was nearly 
equal to that of John Netherland, and he could play upon these 
and move men through them with nearly the same success. 
Wit, admirable raillery, and a remarkable power of ridicule 
were combined in him with sarcasm of the keenest character. 
In important cases he rarely failed to draw tears from the jury. 
In contests, he was capable of pathetic and eloquent appeals. 
He was tender-hearted, and could weep like a child over the 
wrongs of his client. By ridicule on the one hand, and impas- 
sioned appeals on the other, he constantly excited laughter or 
tears, while his power of invective was simply terrible. His 
tongue was as keen as a razor, and his sharp sayings were rained 
with resistless force, like the discharges of a Gatling gun, upon 
opposing litigants and witnesses. He had the faculty of seiz- 
ing upon trivial circumstances, dwelling and harping upon them 
in his irresistible manner, until he caused the jury to overlook 
the vital points in controversy. He often thus wrested verdicts 
from the opposing council when both the law and the facts 
were against him. A fighter from the start to the close of a 
case, he never yielded, never gave up, never gave quarter. 
In every case it was a life-and-death struggle. So when he 
came in contact with the best lawyers, they expected a con- 
test. He had the courage to say what he thought, regardless 
of consequences, and he thought of new and unheard-of things. 
His mind was prolific in new ideas and in new images. Arnold 
was often eloquent, and in all cases he was forcible and strong. 
The truth is, nature came well-nigh making him a genius. As 


it was, it made of him a most successful and dangerous advocate. 

When Brownlow's Whig was suspended, in October, 1861, 
and the voice of that brave man was no longer heard through 
his paper, the Union leaders who still remained in Tennessee 
became silent. The arrests and imprisonments that were daily 
taking place warned them that prudence was absolutely neces- 
sary for their safety. Arnold, however, formed an exception 
to this rule. He continued to proclaim his Union sentiments 
as freely and as independently as before the June election. 
Although danger encompassed him on every hand, he seemed 
unconscious of it. In every crowd he praised the old Govern- 
ment and denounced in no halfway terms the Southern Con- 
federacy. It mattered not that Confederate soldiers might 
be present; they had no terrors for him, and could not silence 
him. He was impassioned and defiant in his speech. On one 
occasion, going from Knoxville to his home in Greeneville, 
on a train filled with Confederate soldiers and officers, he 
proclaimed his Union sentiments in a vehement manner. Per- 
haps any other man in the State of Tennessee would have been 
arrested under the circumstances. His courage and his 
honesty, however, commanded respect and secured immunity 
for him. There was something about that lion-hearted old 
man in his moments of enthusiastic patriotism that was awe- 
inspiring, even to armed men. His brave and defiant advocacy 
of the Union from 1861 to 1865, during the terrors of the great 
Civil War, and amid the persecutions in East Tennessee, was 
indeed heroic, almost sublime. Alone of his family, excepting 
one youthful son, he stood for the Union, with a warmth and 
devotion almost unexampled. Two of his sons were in the 
Confederate Army, one as a Lieutenant Colonel and the other 
as a Captain, and yet in his isolation he looked as if he were 
backed by an army. Undoubtedly his age and distinguished 
career served to protect him. But more than these, his 
honesty and dauntless courage constituted his chief shield. No 
other man could have acted as he did. 

When we come to a discussion of General Arnold's personal 
qualities and in all case* these make the real man we are 
embarrassed, not for want of material, but from the difficulty 
of so presenting the apparently contradictory facts as to bring 
into plain view his real character. Anomalous and many sided, 
he seemed to a casual observer full of contradictions. Yet, 


if we can find the key to his character, all these can be recon- 
ciled and brought into harmony. Ambitious, courageous, im- 
pulsive, and belligerent, he was yet kind and tender-hearted. 
He loved the right and hated wrong. He had at all times a 
tear for suffering and a sigh for sorrow. He hated deception 
and hypocrisy and loved candor and manliness. Imagine these 
qualities united in one person in their utmost intensity, and we 
have Thomas D. Arnold. They made him, as I have stated, 
an anomaly, full of tears and sympathy at one moment, a 
raging storm, or perhaps more appropriately, a furious lion, 
at another. He could weep at suffering as a woman. An out- 
rage or a wrong threw him into a furious passion. He was 
bitter toward his enemies, warm and effusive toward his friends. 
In one moment the most demonstrative friend; the next in 
a delirium of rage. His forgiveness was as quick as his 
passion, and his sympathy as broad and universal as human suf- 
fering. He could be as gentle as a child, and as terrible as an evil 
spirit. Arnold was not a bad-hearted man. In passion, 
and in enthusiasm, he often went to extremes, but these were 
the result of his boundless and irrepressible emotions. In all 
he said and did, in all his paroxysms of joy or bitterness, he 
was honest at heart. 


Rose Rapidly in Profession in North Carolina Clay Elector in 1844- 

In Legislature, Speaker of Lower House Removed to Knoxville, 
1857 Rank and Characteristics as a Lawyer Believed Union Could 
be Preserved Bitter Speeches Favored Moderate Measures at Greene- 
ville Convention Followed Nelson to Richmond Influence of Zebulon 
Vance Defeated for Confederate Congress by William G. Swan Co- 
operates with Secessionists Arrested at Memphis Drifts Back Into 
Union Ranks 18G4, Joins McClellan Movement Attacks Brownlow 
1870, Elected to Constitutional Convention 1872, Call to Organize New 
Political Party Supports Hayes, 1876 Appointed U. S. Circuit Judge 

Among the Union leaders in East Tennessee in 1861 John 
Baxter deserves conspicuous mention. He was bom in Ruther- 
ford County, North Carolina, in 1819, of Irish (probably 
Scotch-Irish) parents. The education he acquired, which was 
very limited, he obtained in that county. After following for 
a time a calling that was not congenial to his tastes, he 
abandoned it, and began the study of law. At that time it 
was difficult to obtain a license to practice law in North Caro- 
lina, especially in the higher courts, and the standard was 
high and the examinations rigid. But Baxter passed the 
ordeal in triumph and while still a very young man was admitted 
to the bar. He rose rapidly in his profession, and quickly 
reached the front rank of lawyers in Western North Caro- 
lina, a region abounding in able men. 

Mr. Baxter was a Whig in politics, and early in life began 
to take part in political discussions. In 1844 he was presi- 
dential elector on the Cla}^ ticket for his district. This was 
a remarkable compliment to a man only twenty-five years of 
age. He was subsequent!}^ elected two or three times a member 
of the Legislature, and finally made speaker of the lower House. 
By this time he was favorably known all over the State, and 
had much influence with the public men. At the bar he had 
risen to the very head of his profession in the wide region of 
his practice. 

Notwithstanding Mr. Baxter's success, professionally and 
politically, and the extensive circle of friends he had won, he 


was ambitious for a wider field of endeavor than Western North 
Carolina afforded. Knoxville, Tenn., was at that time justly 
regarded as a promising town and offered larger opportunities 
than Western North Carolina for a man of ambition. Accord- 
ingly, in the early spring of 1857 Mr. Baxter opened a cor- 
respondence with me in reference to locating here. Shortly after, 
in the month of May, he arrived with his family and servants, 
having purchased a home before coming. He sought and formed 
no partnership with anyone, but relied on his own ability to se- 
cure professional business. He was then, in point of property, 
almost independent. 

I remember Avell his first appearance in the argument of a 
cause. It was in a complicated action of ejectment. His argu- 
ment before the court and jury was so clear and strong that it 
marked him at once as one of the leaders of the Knoxville bar, 
then one of the strongest in the State. From that time forward 
his success was unbroken. Each year, until he was made United 
States Circuit Judge by President Hayes for the Sixth Circuit, 
composed of the States of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and 
Michigan, his success was all that his ambition, high as it was, 
could have desired. He was confessedly the head of the bar in 
East Tennessee, and I believe he had no equal in the State. 
His income from his profession after the war was larger an- 
nually, perhaps, than any lawyer had ever received in the State. 
So highly were his services esteemed by litigants that he had 
only to name his fee. 

In his profession Mr. Baxter was a hard-working man, and 
yet he worked so rapidly, his mind gathered the facts of a case 
and saw the controlling points so quickly, that he had much time 
for the society of friends. He dashed off his most elaborate 
briefs with the ease and speed of familiar letter-writing. Minor 
points he passed over without notice and went at once to the 
core of the question, which he fortified and strengthened by 
authorities and by massive and impregnable arguments. If he 
had no authorities, if the question was new, he brought all his 
powerful intellect to show what the law should be declared to be. 
He attached no sacred reverence to precedents and decisions. 
If they seemed to be founded on reason and common sense, and 
to be promotive of justice, he accepted them as law; if not, he 
denounced them as not law. If a new question was presented 
for his opinion, he would say what the law should be, and what 


it was. If the authorities did not sustain his views, he would 
with the utmost confidence attack them as erroneous. This was 
not done in a reckless spirit of bravado and opposition, but in 
the calm confidence of a powerful mind that rested its conclu- 
sions on the highest reason. 

That Mr. Baxter was a great lawyer, one of the greatest of 
his day, admits of no doubt. His intellect was massive as well 
as astute and logical. To compare him with others would be 
difficult, perhaps invidious, for he was unlike others. There 
was in him no eloquence, no learning, no adornment of style. 
He was like a solid block of unpolished granite. Thomas C. 
Lyon, in his prime, had the reputation, and justly, too, of being 
one of the ablest lawyers in the State. His arguments on great 
occasions were lucid, profound, powerful, and clothed in classical, 
elegant language. But he had nearly run his course, by reason 
of ill health, before Mr. Baxter came to Tennessee. I doubt 
whether he was the equal of Mr, Baxter in breadth and com- 
prehensiveness of intellect, though greatly his superior in all 
kinds of learning. I was too young to compare Mr. Baxter 
with the two McKinneys, who were in their day masters in their 
profession. The former distinguished Chancellor, Thomas L. 
WilHams, who had known all the great lawyers of Tennessee 
for a generation back, such as W. E. Anderson, John A. Mc- 
Kinney, Spencer Jarnagan, Robert J. McKinney, William H. 
Sneed, Thomas C. Lyon, and others, said to me in 1852 that 
Judge Hugh Lawson White was decidedly the best lawyer he had 
ever known in the State. Never having known Judge White ex- 
cept by reputation, I cannot compare Mr. Baxter with him. 

As before stated, Mr. Baxter was uneducated. His language 
and pronunciation were faulty. Brownlow and L. C. Houk 
overcame this early defect. Baxter and Johnson never did. 
The truth is, that while Baxter was a hard-working man, he 
had no taste for general reading. 

After IMr. Baxter came to Tennessee he took no active part 
in political affairs until the threatening aspect of the secession 
movement aroused him in November, 1860. He was a Whig, a 
Southern man, and a slave-holder. His personal sympathies 
were naturally with his brethren of the South. He believed at 
that time that the Union could be preserved by wise, conservative 
councils, and by the united action of all good men in the South. 
Accordingly, in the public meeting held in Knoxville in the latter 


part of November, 1860, and in the one held later in December, 
in which both parties took part (of which a full account is given 
in another book), he proposed and advocated a Conference or a 
Convention of Delegates from all the Southern States for the 
purpose of devising some plan of securing the rights of the 
people of the South, and thus saving the Union. He advocated 
the same policy in Brownlow's Whig. He was unquestionably 
a Union man. But as his proposition was advocated by the 
known friends of secession, both in Nashville and Knoxville, and 
as the Union men in these meetings believed that such a course 
would strengthen secession and not the Union, they opposed his 
proposition, and in the end voted it down by an overwhelming 

There never was any doubt as to the honesty of ]\Ir. Baxter 
in his course in these two important meetings, but in the first 
skirmishes of the great civil conflict, when the ideas of men 
first began to crystallize into definite forms, he came well-nigh 
giving a fatal direction to those opinions. Fortunately there 
were other men present to point out the danger. 

In the following January Mr. Baxter was thoroughly alive 
to the danger which threatened the integrity of the Union. 
When the Legislature, which was convened by Governor Harris, 
proposed the call of a convention to pass on the question of the 
secession of the State, and directed the election of delegates to 
said convention, Mr. Baxter was unanimously selected by a 
Union mass-meeting as the candidate for Knox county. He at 
once, in co-operation with the other candidates, took the stump 
for the Union. In common with the L^nion leaders through- 
out the State, he opposed the proposed Convention, and advised 
the people to vote it down. This was somewhat in conflict 
perhaps with his previous position. His speeches were able, 
argumentative, and extremely bitter. I doubt if any man in the 
State, not even Andrew Johnson, was so bitter in denunciation 
of secession and its leaders. He was bold in his speeches to 
the very verge of audacity. 

Mr. Baxter was in no sense, except in wonderful ability, a 
great speaker. He had a poor voice. He had no fancy ; he 
had no eloquence, except the faculty of grouping facts in a 
masterly manner, and turning upon them the headlight of his 
great intellect. And yet he never spoke on a great occasion 
without producing a profound sensation. If he was deficient 


in rhetoric, in the power to please the fancy, he possessed in 
a remarkable degree the mind to convince and move men. In 
the Spring canvass of 1861, following that of February, Mr. 
Baxter took an active part in opposition to the separation 
of the State. Like his former efforts, his speeches were daring 
and bitter and powerful in the presentation of facts. His 
influence in molding public opinion in East Tennessee, in both 
these canvasses, was unquestionably very great. He possessed 
one quality in as high a degree as any man in the State, a 
quality of greater value at the time than even splendid ability 
absolute fearlessness. Li this respect he was the equal of 
Thomas A. R. Nelson the very type and model of courage. 

While JNIr. Baxter had made many threats of continued 
resistance to secession, in the event the State should vote for 
separation, yet, when the fact happened, his strong practical 
sense soon convinced him of the folly, indeed the madness of 
such a course. Accordingly, in the Greeneville Convention, 
which reconvened twelve daj^s after the June election, he gave 
the weight of his influence and his voice in favor of the moderate 
measures proposed in that body, in opposition to the violent 
and extreme resolutions presented by Mr. Nelson, which were 
at first approved by three-fourths of the Convention. Mr. 
Baxter did his full share in securing the adoption of these 
peaceful measures, and in thus averting civil war in East Tenn- 
essee. He deserves credit for this course, but not more than 
others. He was not the author of the pacific measures that were 
finally adopted. 

Mr. Baxter was unquestionably one of the great Union 
leaders of East Tennessee. After Johnson, Brownlow, and 
Nelson, he deserves as much credit as anyone for making East 
Tennessee so unflinchingly loyal to the old government, and 
is certainl}'^ entitled to more credit than many of the leaders. 

When Mr. Nelson was arrested in August, 1861, on his way 
North as a member of Congress, and was carried to Richmond, 
Baxter at once followed him there in order that he might render 
him assistance. There was no sacrifice Baxter would not make 
in those days for a friend. While in Richmond he came in 
contact with Governor Zebulon Vance, and other old friends 
from North Carolina, and to a certain extent doubtless im- 
bibed their opinions. Vance persuaded him that the true policy 
of the Union men in such States as Tennessee and North Caro- 


Una was to do as he had done to join the secession movement, 
to get control of things, and thus check and prevent excesses. 
Mr. Baxter came home with the idea in his head. But he soon 
discovered how inapplicable this policy was to the Union people 
of East Tennessee. They had taken their stand and nothing 
could move them. 

Soon after Mr. Baxter's return he called at my office, and, 
explaining his views, urged me to become a candidate in the 
approaching election for the Confederate Congress. This I 
promptly and decidedly declined to do. He said in reply: 
"Then, if you will not run, I shall." I answered that neither 
he nor I, with our opinions, had any business in the Confederate 
Congress, and that I could not even vote for him, friend as he 
was, because I could not take part in that election. The result 
was, he became a candidate, and was badly beaten by William 
G. Swan, an original secessionist. The Union men would 
not vote for Mr. Baxter, because they would do nothing that 
would seem to sanction the validit3'^ of the Confederacy ; so 
they kept away from the polls. On the other hand, the seces- 
sionists preferred one who had been with them from the be- 

I am not aware of a single Union man who changed his 
position on account of Mr. Baxter's abandonment of his old 
opinions. I have elsewhere said that if every Union leader 
at that time had deserted his standard and his party, the 
great majority of Union men would have remained unflinch- 
ingly true to the national cause. When the questions involved 
were new, as in the latter part of 1860 and the early part of 
1861, the mass of the people might have been led astray by the 
example and the teachings of their trusted leaders ; but that 
time had gone by. They had made up their own minds, and 
no influence could change them. I wish to repeat with re- 
newed emphasis that these Union men were the descendants of the 
brave Scotch Covenanters, who brought the torch of civilization 
into this wilderness a people who never yielded and never sur- 
rendered a conviction. 

From this time until the spring of 1862 Mr. Baxter co-oper- 
ated with the secessionists, and was regarded as one of them, 
though he sometimes criticised their conduct most severely. Af- 
ter the attempt to burn the Strawberry Plains Bridge, in Novem- 
ber, 1861, and the successful accomplishment of the burning 


of five others, when it was reported that the Union men of 
SeA'Ier County were moving on Strawberry Plains in large 
numbers in a hostile manner, Baxter took his gim and went 
with Confederate troops to that point to resist the Union force. 
The report proved to be a gross exaggeration, as were nearly 
all the reported gatherings of Union men in a hostile attitude 
at that time. So, Baxter and his associates came back free 
from the stain of blood. 

In February, 1862, Mr. Baxter started a newspaper of his 
own in Knoxville called the East Tennesseean. The first number 
made its appearance on the 27th of that month. In an 
editorial, stating his reasons for issuing a paper, Mr. Baxter 
said one was "to harmonize the discordant elements among us, 
and reconcile the disafi'ected to the Government of the Con- 
federate States." There is no ambiguity in that statement. 
From some cause, I know not what, only one number of that 
paper was ever issued. 

Some time in the spring of 1862 Mr. Baxter went to ]Mem- 
phis on his own private business, and while there he was 
arrested as an enemy of the South, and held as a prisoner 
for some days. He was finally released and permitted to come 
home. On his return he charged that Governor Harris had 
had him arrested. After this he quickly drifted back into the 
Union ranks, and remained there until some time in the early 
part of 1864. The emancipation policy of Mr. liincoln, and 
other acts of his administration displeased Mr. Baxter and other 
former Union leaders, and they were quick to denounce these 
measures. They joined in the McClellan movement, to sup- 
plant Lincoln as President, and to stop the war. From that 
time forward, until some time in the 'seventies, Mr. Baxter co- 
operated with the Democratic party In opposition to the Re- 
publican party. He made fierce and bitter warfare on Gov- 
ernor Brownlow, and on his administration of the affairs of the 
State. He finally went so far as to draw a broadside from 
the powerful battery of his puissant antagonist, which came 
well-nigh annihilating him. 

In 1870 Baxter was elected a member of the Constitutional 
Convention of Tennessee, and received the honor of being 
made Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. This appoint- 
ment shows conclusively where he stood politically, at that time, 
for this was as genuine a representative Democratic body as 


ever assembled in the State. Indeed, Baxter owed his election 
to the fact that no prominent Republican in his county wished 
to be in that Convention, so the few who voted in the election 
voted for him, there being no other candidate fit for the 

In 1872 Mr. Baxter seems to have become dissatisfied with 
his party affiliations, for in that year a call appeared in some 
of the newspapers, signed by T. A. R. Nelson, himself, and a 
few others, calling for a Convention to assemble on a specified 
day in Cincinnati, for the purpose of organizing a new political 
party. Whether this Convention ever assembled, or what it 
did, is a matter of no general interest, and is therefore passed 

Some time between 1872 and 1875 Mr. Baxter ceased his 
wanderings, and came baclc to his old party, where he remained 
with more or less steadiness until his death. He supported 
Mr. Hayes for the Presidency in 1876. That he was sincere 
in these various changes scarcely admits of a doubt, but they 
certainly show a mental agility that is somewhat remarkable. 

The career of INIr. Baxter in the exalted position of a Judge 
of the United States Circuit Court has been the theme of both 
high praise and of severe criticism. As I never appeared profes- 
sionally before him, and saw but little of him in his capacity of 
a judge, I leave it to those who were familiar with his mode of ad- 
ministering the law to determine how much of praise or of cen- 
sure he deserves. Two things will probably be conceded by all, 
namely, his honesty of purpose and his judicial ability. Preju- 
dice on the part of a judge, however, may sometimes be as fatal 
as dishonesty would be. One thing was clear to all, that Mr. 
Baxter on the bench was no mere neutral character. He was a 
positive force. The tremendous power of his will and intellect 
was felt in all he said and in all he did. 

Riding together one day, in 1859 or 1860, the question arose 
between Mr. Baxter and myself in regard to the size of fortune 
that would satisfy each of us. I named a very moderate sum 
as sufficient for myself. Mr. Baxter laughed, and said it would 
take ten times that sum to satisfy him. Now, this was not 
sordidness on his part, but ambition. He was a very prince 
of generosity in his days of prosperity. He was ambitious for 
money because it would give him power and influence. Time 
wore on, and I more than doubled the sum I |jad named, and when 


I reached that point, I retired with a competence, ceasing to strive 
actively for more. Within a few years after this conversation, 
Mr. Baxter had acquired one-fifth the sum named. This, with 
his large income from his profession, and afterward from his sal- 
ary as a Judge, was sufficient to have made him independent for 
life, and to have enabled him to leave a fair fortune to his chil- 
dren. But, inflamed with the desire for great wealth, he em- 
barked in visionary speculations, losing heavily. 

Judge Baxter was a striking man personally. He was about 
five feet eleven inches, with powerful body. He weighed two 
hundred pounds or more. His head was enormous in size. It 
was admirably proportioned, and his body corresponded with 
it in the appearance of strength. The head and body were 
rugged, rather than graceful. His eyes, large and bright, were 
of a beautiful hazel color. With an expression of kindness they 
were charming. His face was altogether an attractive one, 
especially when irradiated with a smile. In the days of his 
prosperity. Judge Baxter was a delightful companion and a fine 
conversationalist. He was always the central figure in every 
crowd. His mind was essentially honest and independent. It 
sought the light. It had no sympathy with darkness nor devious 
ways. While Judge Baxter had many faults, he exhibited many 
virtues and man}' noble qualities. Certainly he was one of the 
striking men of his generation. Of the array of remarkably 
strong men among the Union leaders in East Tennessee, in 
1861, it is by no means certain that he was not the very strongest 
and the most intellectual. He was a notable man among notable 


Member of Congress Lawyer Whig Elector Vehemeut Speaker Spot- 
less Integrity. 

Ix the Whig delegation in Congress from East Tennessee, in 
1859 and 1860, as a colleague of Thomas A. R. Nelson and 
Horace Maynard, was Reese B, Brabson, from the Third, or 
Chattanooga, District. He was a native of Sevier County, where 
he was reared. After finishing his education, he entered the 
profession of law. He married the accomplished daughter of 
Judge Charles F. Keith, a prominent jurist of his da}^ and 
moved to Chattanooga. Here he followed his profession with 
success. In 1848 he was honored by his Whig friends by being 
selected as the Whig elector on the Taylor presidential ticket. 
He made a canvass of the district with Samuel A. Smith, the 
Democratic elector, then regarded as one of the most promising 
young Democrats in the State. Smith afterward achieved con- 
siderable success, and made some reputation, as a member of 
Congress for several terms from the Chattanooga District. On 
the stump Brabson sustained the Whig cause, and upheld its 
banner to the satisfaction of his party friends. He was an 
impulsive and vehement speaker, and pleased the people. 

In 1851 Mr. Brabson was elected to the lower house of the 
Legislature from Hamilton County, and served his constituents 
faithfully, fearlessly, and with ability. In 1859 he was selected 
as the Whig candidate for Congress against Samuel A. Smith, 
the Democratic candidate, and was elected in a district almost 
invariably giving a majority on the other side. 

In the canvass of 1860 he was a warm advocate of John Bell 
for the Presidency, canvassing his own district for him. In the 
Congress of 1859-60 he was an ardent supporter of the Union, 
and never faltered in his course. During this Congress he 
made an earnest appeal in behalf of the Union. In the dark 
days of 1861, when so many trusted leaders fell out of the 
Union ranks, he never wavered nor turned back. He made 
speeches for the Union, and exerted all his influence for its 
preservation. As he was at that time, or recently had been, a 



member of Congress, and a man of spotless integrity, his in- 
fluence was considerable. 

Mr. Brabson's father was a man of wealth, as was also his 
father-in-law, and from the estates of the two he started life in 
comfortable circumstances. From his ambition, energy, and 
popular manners, his career might have become more dis- 
tinguished than it was, had he not died when he had scarcely 
reached the full maturity of his power. His death occurred in 
1863, in the middle of the Civil War, when he was about forty- 
six years of age. He was of a warm, genial nature; frank, 
brave, manly and honest ; hence had the faculty of drawing men 
to him by love as well as by admiration. He was also public 
spirited, and did much toward laying the foundation of the 
growth of the flourishing city of Chattanooga. 


Member of Legislature Eleven Terms Lieutenant-Colonel Circuit 
Judge Member of Congress Five Terms. 

R. R. BuTLEE of Johnson County was a comparatively young 
man during the stormy days of 1861, yet he exerted a decided 
influence in his county, and possibly beyond it, in behalf of the 
preservation of the Union. Having been elected to the Legisla- 
ture in 1859, he was a member of that body when the question 
of the secession of the State came before it in May, 1861. With 
unshrinking firmness, he cast his vote against that unwise 
measure. Both before and after that time he was a brave, 
outspoken Union man, making speeches in its favor. So out- 
spoken was he, and so powerful his influence among his own 
people, that he was arrested three times by the Confederates 
on the charge of treason. 

In the latter part of 1863 he became Lieutenant-Colonel in 
one of the Tennessee Regiments. In 1865, when the Courts of 
the State were re-established, he was appointed Circuit Judge 
of the First Judicial Circuit, which position he held for about 
two years. In 1867 he left the bench in order to become a 
candidate for Congress, and was easily elected. At different 
times he has served in Congress, 1867-73, again in 1886. When 
not in Congress, he has been a member of the Legislature serving 
six terms in the lower house and five terms in the Senate. It 
is doubtful whether any other man in the United States can 
show such a record of Legislative honors. So hopeless of 
defeating him has it become that no man of his own party will 
oppose him. He signifies a willingness to serve his con- 
stituents, and that is sufficient to secure his nomination and 
election. He seems to have a life tenure of the office, for no 
doubt he will be nominated again when his term expires. Be- 
sides all this, he served one term on the bench after first retir- 
ing from Congress, 1875 or 1876. 

It is not surprising that Judge Butler is thus constantly 
returned to the Legislature, for he is an able and faithful 
member. Though a bold and outspoken Republican, he is 



popular with both parties, and can always secure the passage 
of all measures affecting his constituents. Perhaps no member 
of that body is so blunt and candid in criticism of the Demo- 
cratic party, yet all like him personally. He is the Nestor of 
the Legislature. A strong, clear, vigorous speaker, his infor- 
mation on all political questions is wide and extensive. It is 
no surprise to those who know Judge Butler that he has ac- 
quired and still retains such a tenacious hold on the people of 
his mountain District, for besides being a man of ability and 
a very strong speaker, in addition he is simple, affable, ap- 
proachable, and exceedingly kindly in manner and disposition; 
yet under all circumstances he is dignified. In person, he is 
tall and commanding. When not engaged in legislative duties, 
he still follows the practice of law. But he is much better 
known as a politician than as a lawyer. 

All in all the career of Judge Butler has in it something en- 
tirely unique.* 

Judge Butler died in the latter part of 1902. 


Bold Leader Slaveholder Born in Roane County Farmer Entered 
Into Agreement at Greeneville Convention to Raise Troops The First 
Tennessee, Colonel Byrd. 

The boldest, most active, and the leading Union man in 
Roane County was Robert K. Byrd. He was not a speaker, 
though he did sometimes speak, but he was a busy and an 
earnest talker. Positive and confident in his opinions, he en- 
couraged the timid and gave firmness to the vacillating. His 
boldness and positiveness were a tower of strength in dealing 
with men in times of danger and alarm. During all the stormy 
days from December, 1860, till June, 1861 the period of doubt, 
of fear, of revolution his clear voice was heard in denunciation 
of the parricidal crime of secession. A slaveholder himself, 
the taunting epithets, "Abolitionist," and "Lincolnite," so com- 
monly applied to Union men, had no terror for him. He went 
bravely and defiantly along the broad way of duty. 

Mr. Byrd was born in Roane County, and was a farmer by 
occupation. In 1861 he was a member of the Knoxville-Greene- 
ville Convention. In the convention he entered into an agree- 
ment with Joseph A. Cooper, R. M. Edwards, E. Langley, and 
Samuel Honeycutt to go home and commence raising and drill- 
ing troops in their respective counties. In Roane County, two 
companies of "Home Guards" were raised, but whether or not 
by the direct action of Mr. Byrd I am unable to say. On the 
9th of August, the State having previously voted in favor of 
separation and secession, he left home secretly, and by stealth 
made his way through the mountains to Kentucky, becoming 
an exile and a wanderer for the sake of his country. On his 
arrival in this land of refuge, he began enlisting men for the 
Federal Army among the refugees from East Tennessee, 
thousands of whom were then as if by common impulse pouring 
into Kentucky. Roane County, following his example, sent him 
hundreds, yea, a thousand or more, among them, August 11th, 
the brave Major H. Crumless, the friend of Byrd. In a month 
the First Tennessee Infantry, of which Mr. Byrd was made 



Colonel, was organized, he being the first Colonel of the thirty- 
one regiments which Tennessee furnished to the cause of the 
Union. Glorious title and distinction! And every one of that 
regiment had to go to a sister State for the privilege of en- 

On his many battlefields at Wildcat, at Mill Spring, in the 
capture of Cumberland Gap, at Stone River, in a fight with 
Wheeler at Kingston, in all the battles under Sherman in the 
immortal Georgia Campaign, and in many smaller engagements, 
often commanding brigades, bravely did Colonel Byrd sustain 
the high honor he had received, and the distinction won by the 
regiment of being the First Tennessee. In August, 1864, he 
left the army, after three years of continuous service in the field, 
without a stain upon his splendid record as a brave officer, or a 
spot upon his reputation as an honorable gentleman and a 
gallant soldier. He was always ready for a fight, and when en- 
gaged in one bore himself with the coolness and courage of one 
born to command. 

Colonel Byrd married the daughter of Dr. James W. Lee. 
Mrs. Byrd was a woman of heroic spirit worthy to be the wife 
of such a man. No one could look into her piercing eyes with- 
out recognizing that there was within her fragile form an un- 
conquerable will and a dauntless spirit. She was so pronounced 
in the advocacy of the Union, and so daring that in May, 1862, 
she was arrested by the Confederates as a dangerous enemy. 
By cunning and boldness she eluded her guards and made 
her way through the mountains into Kentucky, though they were 
guarded at every pass and everywhere patrolled by Confederate 

Colonel Byrd departed this life in 1885, deeply lamented by 
his friends. He was a large, powerful man, of military air 
and bearing. To this commanding appearance may be at- 
tributed in part his influence over men. Added to this he had 
great boldness and fearlessness. In him was combined every 
quality for leadership. His was a life of honor, three years 
of full maturity having been given to the defense of his country. 


Born in Kentucky One of First Volunteer Soldiers After Number of 
Engagements, Destroyed Mill at Cumberland Gap Captured near 
Rogersville, Taken to Libby Prison and Charleston Sheriff of Ander- 
son County Mayor of Knoxville Pension Agent Receiver Southern 
Building and Loan Association Natural Leader. 

One of the influential Union leaders of East Tennessee in 
1861 was Daniel A. Carpenter. Born in Rockcastle County, 
Kentucky, in 183T, he removed to Tennessee, 1857. He settled 
in Anderson County and went into the retail dry goods and 
grocery business in Clinton. When the troubles of 1861 came 
on he was an ardent Union man. In July of that year a notable 
meeting was held in Clinton at which Joseph A. Cooper, Car- 
penter, and a few other Union men resolved to go to Kentucky 
and enlist in the Union Army. They pledged one another that 
whatever might be the course of others, they would give their 
services to their country. Mr. Carpenter was sent to Kentucky 
to obtain information, and in a few days returned, having 
succeeded in obtaining the information desired. Early in 
August he again went to Kentucky, immediately joining the 
army. He was one of the earliest refugees from the State, and 
one of its first volunteer soldiers. He was made 1st Lieu- 
tenant in Co. C, 2d Tennessee Infantry, commanded by Joseph 
A. Cooper. 

A year later the regiment was mounted, and Mr. Carpenter was 
made Adjutant, and in 1862 was promoted to be Major. Most 
of his service was in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West 
Virginia. He was at the battle of Wild Cat, Kentucky, in 
1861 ; in the battle of Fishing Creek, Kentucky, in the winter 
of 1861 and 1862; took part in the battle of Stone River in 
1862; returned to Kentucky, pursuing General Morgan on his 
famous raid through Indiana and Ohio ; accompanied General 
Burnside on his march to East Tennessee in 1863; had charge 
of the advance guard from Williamsburg, Ky., to Lenoirs, on 
the Southern Railway; from Lenoirs to Loudon he skirmished 
with the enemy and saw the bridge which crossed the Tennessee 



River burned; returned to Knoxville, having charge of th 
advance guard from Knoxville to Cumberland Gap. 

At this time about four thousand Confederates were in 
possession of Cumberland Gap or the fortifications at that 
place. General Burnside's command embraced both sides of the 
Gap, and completely inclosed the enemy. The question was 
how to procure a surrender without storming the strong forti- 
fications, or the delay of a siege. General Shackelford was in 
command of the Union forces on both sides of the mountain, 
General Burnside not yet having come up. Major Carpenter 
was sent into the Gap with a flag of truce to demand a sur- 
render, and he got far enough to discover that the fortifica- 
tions were about as they had been left by General George W. 
Morgan when he retreated from them a few months previous. 
He further learned from the Confederates that they were short 
of rations, and that all the corn and wheat they had for bread 
was stored in a mill situated within the fortifications and rifle 
pits. These facts Carpenter reported to General Shackelford, 
giving it as his opinion that a small force could enter the Gap 
at night, fire the mill, and thus destroy the supplies of the enemy. 
But in a council of the colonels, commanding the several regi- 
ments, with General Shackelford, this plan was rejected. 

Afterward IMajor Carpenter proposed to General Shackel- 
ford to volunteer to go inside the fortifications and destroy the 
mill. This proposition was accepted, the General agreeing to 
detail, at the request of Carpenter, seventy-five men from the 
2d Tennessee, and an equal number from the 9th Michigan 
Cavalry, with one section of H. Clay Crawford's Battery. The 
attempt was made and proved entirely successful; the mill and 
all its contents were destroyed, with the loss of only one man 
and the wounding of another. Major Carpenter led his men 
in silence until he struck the pickets of the enemy, when, with 
a yell and a fusillade of musketry, and the rapid discharge of 
cannon stationed on Poor Valley Ridge, he rushed forward to 
the mill, which in a few minutes by means of lighted fagots 
was in a blaze. The pickets fled in consternation. The noise, 
the yells, the firing created the impression on the enemy that it 
was an attack by the whole army. In a brief while the mill 
was in ashes. Meantime, the enemy's artillery from all the over- 
hanging mountain was thundering forth peal after peal in a 
tempest of fury, emitting balls and terrific flames of fire. 


Major Carpenter, immediately after accomplishing his object, 
led his men back to camp. The conception of this daring plan, 
in all its details, originated with him, and he was the successful 
leader in executing it. 

General Burnside arrived the next morning, and INIajor Car- 
penter was sent again with a flag of truce to demand the uncon- 
ditional surrender of the forces in the Gap. The demand was 
acceded to, and General Frazier, with four thousand men, 
marched out and laid down their arms. 

Carpenter, with a large portion of his regiment, was cap- 
tured near Rogersville, Tenn., in November, 1863. The pri- 
vates were sent to Belle Isle and the officers to Libby prison. 
Here he remained six months, when he was sent to INIacon, Ga. 
After remaining there about one month, he and forty-nine other 
officers, the highest in rank held by the Confederates, were sent 
to Charleston, and placed under the fire of Federal guns, com- 
manded by General Foster, who was then shelling that city. 
There was no exchange of prisoners at that time. General 
Foster had an equal number of Confederate prisoners brought 
from the North, and notified General Beauregard, who was then 
in command, that if he continued to keep the Federal officers 
in a position where their lives were endangered, he (Foster) 
would place the Confederate officers on board of monitors and 
attack the land batteries. General Beauregard replied that in 
that case he would place the Federal officers he held on the 
parapets of the fortifications, and if they were fired on, it would 
be at their peril. Correspondence was then renewed between 
the governments, by which an agreement was reached that the 
fifty Confederate officers should be exchanged for the fifty 
Federal officers, which exchange was accordingly made. 

Major Carpenter, after his release in October, 1864?, re- 
turned to his former home and again went into business. In 
1866 he was elected sherifT of Anderson County. He was ap- 
pointed Collector of Internal Revenue by President Johnson, 
1867, with headquarters at Knoxville, and removed at once 
to Knox County. 

In 1887 he was appointed U. S. Pension Agent by President 
Cleveland, to fill the unexpired term of Governor Robert L. 
Taylor, and was reappointed by Mr. Cleveland under his second 
administration. In 1876 and again in 1877, Major Carpenter 
was elected Mayor of Knoxville. 


During the administration of Governor Turney, Major Car- 
penter was one of his staff officers, with the rank of Inspector 
General, serving four years. 

On the failure of the Southern Building and Loan Associa- 
tion Major Carpenter was appointed receiver by the Chan- 
cellor at Knoxville and wisely managed its complicated affairs, 
extending over most of the Southern States and embracing over 
two million dollars assets. 

In the public trusts held by Major Carpenter his conduct 
has been marked by the highest intelligence, capacity, and 
honesty. Few men have held so many responsible positions and 
left them with so spotless a record. 

He is a man of positive convictions, with the courage at all 
times to speak what he thinks. In conversation he is im- 
pressive. His frankness, his sincerity, his power of clear think- 
ing and of plainly and earnestly expressing himself, gave him 
a marked influence over his neighbors in 1861, when their minds 
were taking shape in reference to the dissolution of the Union. 
Daniel A. Carpenter is a natural leader, and was born to com- 
mand. I have never known one more so. Voice, eye, indomitable 
determination at once give him ascendency. His courage, too, 
inspires and awes, and withal he is a kind, good citizen. His 
reputation is one of which any man may be proud. 


In Army Personally Popular Actor In Bridge Burning Escaped to 
Kentucky Member of Legislature. 

There was no better Union man than Alfred M. Gate. His 
loyalty was manifested both by words and deeds. He proved it 
by fleeing from a government he hated, becoming a fugitive 
and an exile, entering the army, and giving three years of his 
life to the service of his country. 

Alfred M. Gate was born in INIcMinn Gounty, Tennessee, in 
1822, and died September 13, 1871. His father was Elijah 
Gate, and his mother Nettie D. Gate, both of Jefferson County. 
Mr. Gate's family is large in East Tennessee and exceedingly 
respectable. In 1861, when the question of secession was agi- 
tating the minds of men he was an earnest and bitter opponent 
of that revolutionary scheme. He was active and unceasing 
in his opposition, and exerted a large influence in that behalf. 
His personal popularity and his pleasing address were potent 
factors in behalf of the Union. By reason of this influence he 
was largely instrumental in fixing Union sentiments so deeply 
in the minds of the people of his county that they could never 
be shaken. 

In November, 1861, Mr. Gate was a conspicuous actor in 
burning the railroad bridges in lower East Tennessee. It will 
be remembered that this daring project originated in the fertile 
brain of W. B. Garter of Garter Gounty, that it had the official 
endorsement of Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, 
and of General McGlellan, commanding the armies of the United 
States ; and that its execution was entrusted solely to Mr. 
Garter. The plan contemplated the simultaneous destruction 
of all the railroad bridges in East Tennessee, together with the 
long bridge over the Tennessee River at Bridgeport, Ala. 

The destruction of the bridges in lower East Tennessee was 
entrusted to Alfred M. Gate, a most wise selection. These 
were the bridges at Bridgeport, Ala., over the Tennessee, two 
bridges over Ghickamauga Greek, one on the road leading from 
Atlanta to Chattanooga, one on the East Tennessee and Georgia 



railroad, and one over the Hlwassee River on the last-named 
road. The burning of the bridge at Bridgeport was intrusted 
by Mr. Gate to R. B. Rogan and James D. Keener. At the time 
appointed they repaired to the bridge, but finding it strongly 
guarded by Confederate soldiers, they were compelled to 
abandon their design. The destruction of the two bridges over 
Chickamauga Creek was intrusted to W. T. Cate, a brother of 
A. M. Cate, and to W. H. Crowder, who were completely suc- 
cessful in their work and escaped without being detected. Mr. 
A. M. Cate reserved for himself the burning of the larger bridge 
over the Hiwassee, and the more hazardous undertaking, because 
it connected two villages situated on the opposite sides of the 
river, thereby greatly enhancing the danger of detection. He se- 
lected as his associates in this daring enterprise Adam Thomas, 
Jesse F. Cleveland and his son Eli, and Thomas L. Cate, a 
brother of the leader. All of these men are now dead except 
Thomas L. Cate, who resides at Cleveland, Tenn., nearing the 
close of a well-spent life, respected and honored for his virtues 
and uprightness by a host of friends throughout East Tennessee. 
The party headed by A. M. Cate was completely successful. 
They destroyed the Hiwassee bridge, and returned to their 
homes without leaving behind the slightest trace by which they 
could be identified. They were never suspected, and for nearly 
thirty-five years the mystery of the destruction of these three 
bridges remained as a secret of the grave. Their neighbors 
and most intimate friends, even the Union men, meeting them 
on the streets every day, were no wiser than the Con- 
federate authorities who employed every means and device to 
ferret out and run them down. Mr. Cate and his associates 
must have employed admirable skill and cunning in hiding all 
traces of their tracks. It was well for them that they were 
guided by a discreet and wise leader, that they were not 
detected and arrested, for the fury of the Confederates broke 
out in such a storm of rage that they would as certainly have 
been hanged as Hensie and Fry were hanged at Greeneville, and 
as Haun and the two Harmons were at Knoxville. The wild- 
est and the most unreasonable excitement prevailed throughout 
East Tennessee. The prisons were filled with arrested men. 
Five men were hanged, and hundreds, perhaps a thousand, sent 
South without trial, and nearly every one of them on mere 
suspicion, to languish in filthy prisons, some of them to die. 


Mr. Gate, realizing his danger from the outburst of wrath 
his acts and those of his confederates had created in the country, 
left his home on the 14th of November, 1861, with about twenty 
well-armed men, with the view of escaping to the Federal lines 
in Kentucky. At twelve o'clock that night, before reaching a 
small Union organization gotten up by William Clift, he was 
informed that about 1400 Confederate soldiers were approach- 
ing from different directions to destroy Clift and himself. Hav- 
ing no sufficient force with which to meet this array against 
them, Clift and Cate allowed their followers to disperse in the 
mountains. He himself sought shelter in cliffs and caves, where 
all his comrades deserted him. He remained there eight days, 
in bitter cold weather, changing location from cave to cave as 
safety demanded, seeing squads of soldiers searching for him 
every day. 

Mr. Cate then returned to his home secretly and came very 
near being arrested. He then set out stealthily for Kentucky, 
and was forty days and forty nights on the way, traveling 
over three hundred miles on his second trip, arriving at Sommer- 
set in January, 1862 after nearly two months of wandering 
and hiding in the hills and mountains since he left his home 
in November. 

Of the hardships incident to the flight of the twice ten 
thousand Union refugees from East Tennessee, but few suf- 
fered more, or showed a higher courage than A. M. Cate. On 
his arrival in Kentucky he was made a Captain and appointed 
Commissary, and finally became such in Brigadier-General 
James G. Spears' Brigade. He remained in the army three 
years, making a faithful, capable, and honest officer. 

In 1865 Mr. Cate, having become a citizen of Hamilton 
County, was elected to a seat in the Legislature as a State 
Senator, and in 1867 he was re-elected. This was the recon- 
struction period of the State, and many important and exciting 
questions came before the body for consideration. Mr. Cate 
performed his duty in this and the succeeding Legislature with 
wisdom and fidelity, shrinking from no duty. 

He was a brave and conscientious citizen and public servant, 
highly esteemed by those who knew him, on account of his in- 
tegrity and many noble qualities. He was public spirited, and 
by his fine sense and shrewdness contributed to the public wel- 
fare. It was a great misfortune that he died so young. 


Great-grandson of John Carter Washington College and Princeton- 
Church at Rogersville Whig Interview with Lincoln, Seward, 
McClellan Bridge Burning Member of 3d Knoxville-Greeneville Con- 
vention Pocahontas Blood. 

William Blount Carter, the subject of this sketch, and one 
of the noted Union leaders of East Tennessee in 1861, was born 
in Carter County, September 15, 1820. He was a great-grand- 
son of John Carter, the President of the Council of Five, which 
administered the celebrated Watauga Association for a number 
of years with signal success. John Carter was a Virginian, 
and is believed to have been a Cavalier by descent. The Carter 
family was both numerous and prominent in Virginia long 
before the Revolution. John Carter was one of the first settlers 
on the Watauga, and from his advent became a leading spirit 
in that infant community. From that day to the present time 
the Carter family has exercised a leading, at times a supreme, 
influence in Carter County. By intermarriage the Carters and 
the Taylors the descendants of General Nathaniel Taylor 
became related, and for three-fourths of a century the influ- 
ence of these two families dominated that county. With wealth 
and education, they had more than average capacity, and were, 
as a rule, guided by high principles. Nathaniel Taylor, the 
founder of the house in Tennessee, was a Scotch Covenanter 
commonly called Scotch-Irish. He was not one of the original 
settlers, but came at a later day. He served in the War of 
1812, and was a Colonel in the battle of New Orleans, winning 
distinction and promotion by his bravery. From him all the 
Carter County Taylors are descended. It has always been 
understood that through Elizabeth McLin, the wife of Landon 
Carter, a son of John, the Carter and Taylor families inherited 
the blood of the celebrated Pocahontas of Virginia. Many 
members of these two families show in their complexion signs 
of foreign blood. Many of the men have been remarkable for 
their striking appearance, and the women for their beauty. A 
certain delicate carving of the nose and chin, and an elegance 


of face and person, gave evidence of the highest type of man- 
hood and womanhood. William B. Carter, the uncle of the 
subject of this sketch the President of the Constitutional Con- 
vention of Tennessee in 1834 and three times a member of 
Congress was one of the handsomest men of his day. Major 
General Samuel P. Carter, of the Federal Army in the late 
Civil War, and later an Admiral in the Navy, was an un- 
usually handsome man. The Rev. Nathaniel G. Taylor, the 
father of Governor Robert L. Taylor and Hon. A. A. Taylor, 
twice a member of Congress, was distinguished in appear- 

William B. Carter, at an early age, was destined by his fond 
parents for the Presbyterian ministry. He attended Washing- 
ton College, Tennessee, then went to Princeton, where he finished 
his course in the literary and the theological departments. 
Returning to Tennessee early in the forties, he took charge of 
a church at Rogersville, where he remained a number of years. 
Finally, on account of ill health, he surrendered his charge, 
gave up active work in the ministry, and returned to his old 
home in Carter County, where he devoted himself to the manage- 
ment of his father's estate, consisting mostly of farms. The 
Civil War of 1861 found him thus engaged. 

As a minister, Mr. Carter was faithful and able. His ser- 
mons evinced research and learning, were weighty with thought, 
and pervaded by intense earnestness. Clear-cut and pointed, 
they went directly home to the minds and hearts of men. While 
he employed few graces of rhetoric, his style was remarkably 
terse, compact, and lucid, and he made men think by the force of 
his own thoughts. 

The Carters and the Taylors had all been Whigs in politics. 
When the contest of 1860-61 came on, Mr. Carter naturally 
espoused the cause of the Union, and as he was a man of posi- 
tive opinions, he gave the Union no half-hearted support. He 
entered into its defense with all the energy and intensity of 
determined conviction. When secession swept over the South, 
carrying State after State into the fatal vortex, finally 
threatening Tennessee, Mr. Carter took the stump to help arrest 
its progress, appealing to his neighbors and his countrymen in 
behalf of the old government with an earnestness and ability 
surpassed by few men of the Union leaders. Impressive in 
manner, the occasion and the profound magnitude of the issues 


involved lent additional solemnity to the warning that fell from 
his lips, and with all the intensity of an ancient oracle or a He- 
brew prophet he pointed out the evils to be avoided. 

On the topic of secession Mr. Carter was bitter and uncom- 
promising. When the State voted by a large majority in June 
in favor of linking its destiny with that of the Southern Con- 
federacy, he remained unconvinced and defiant. In the Greene- 
ville Convention, which assembled after the result of that elec- 
tion was known, he gave his support to the most extreme 
measures proposed in that body. Being defeated in his policy 
in that Convention, soon after its adjournment he started 
North, being perhaps the second refugee from his home. He 
conceived in his own prolific mind, precisely at what date it is 
impossible to tell, a daring scheme for the relief of East Ten- 
nessee. This was the simultaneous destruction, by fire, of all the 
railroad bridges in East Tennessee, on the Memphis & Charles- 
ton, the Atlantic & Western, the East Tennessee & Georgia, 
and on the East Tennessee & Virginia roads, including the 
bridge over the Tennessee River at Bridgeport, Ala. These 
roads constituted the main line, in the middle South and South- 
west for the transportation of troops and supplies from those 
regions to the Confederate troops in Virginia, and were there- 
fore of vital importance to the South. In September, 1861, 
Mr. Carter went to Washington, where, having secured an 
audience with Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Seward, and General McClellan, 
he laid his plans before them. With his persuasive manner, 
and his forcible speech, he won them over to his views. The 
President and the General in command became warmly interested 
in the project, promising the co-operation of an army to seize 
and hold the railroads immediately after the bridges should 
be burned. Both Mr. Lincoln and General McClellan wrote 
to the Federal commander in Kentucky urging the importance 
of an independent military expedition into East Tennessee 
simultaneously with the destruction of the bridges. 

Mr. Carter was also furnished funds to meet the extraordi- 
nary expenses of this daring enterprise. Its entire execution 
was left to his discretion. He was to select his own agents to 
carry out his plans, except that two officers of the army were 
detailed, possibly at their own request, to aid him, but under 
his orders. A more suitable man for such a desperate under- 
taking could not have been found. He was cool, cunning. 


sagacious, and daring, as well as secretive and resourceful. He 
knew the country and the people. Before he left Kentucky for 
East Tennessee, in the execution of his plans, the time for the 
destruction of the bridges was fixed between him and the Federal 
commander. General Sherman. General Thomas, with an army, 
was to move toward East Tennessee, and be ready on the 
border to march and seize the railroads at the critical moment. 

In pursuance of the plan agreed upon, in October, 1861, Mr. 
Carter started for Tennessee to make arrangements for its 
execution, and was soon inside of the Confederate lines. No 
messenger could now reach him. His agents had all been 
selected to apply the torch to the different bridges. General 
Thomas, with his little army, had advanced to Barboursville, 
within thirty miles of Cumberland Gap, and only waited for 
the appointed hour to pass on into East Tennessee. Now, when 
all things seemed to be ready, General Sherman, no doubt for 
good reasons, changed his mind, and ordered General Thomas 
to retrace his steps. Thus Carter and his agents were left, in 
the most perilous circumstances, ignorant of the change of 
plans, to execute alone their daring scheme, and to escape as 
they could from the enemy's country. Elsewhere the details 
of this daring attempt are given more fully.* 

Mr. Carter, after the partial success of his plans, finding that 
the Federal Army had not advanced into East Tennessee, as 
he expected, and as he was assured should be done, with deep 
disappointment and mortification, secretly threaded his way 
back into Kentucky. His life would have been worth but little 
had he been caught at that time, for it soon became well known 
that he was the leader of the bridge burners. Whatever merit 
there may be in this military enterprise (for it was a military 
enterprise, undertaken with the express sanction of the govern- 
ment and with that of the commander of its armies), the credit 
of its conception belongs exclusively to Mr. Carter. He did his 
part well toward its execution, and the failure to accomplish 
the results contemplated can in no sense attach to him. Witli 
manly honor he has always refused to divulge the names of 
those he associated with himself in this perilous undertaking, 
though many of them have long since been known. All honor 
to him for this silence ! 

*"East Tennessee and the Civil War," by the author. 


After the partial accomplishment of the destruction of the 
bridges, Mr. Carter, as we have seen, returned to the North, 
where he waited with ill-repressed impatience, for nearly two 
years, until the entrance of the Federal Army, under General 
Bumside, in September, 1863, made it safe for him to return 
with a happy heart to the home of his birth, the land he loved 
so well. 

In the spring of 1864, the Knoxville-Greeneville Convention 
again assembled in Knoxville, this being its third meeting. Mr. 
Carter was present with a number of its old leaders Johnson, 
Brownlow, Nelson, Baxter, and Fleming. The gloomy condi- 
tion of affairs existing at the time of its last meeting, in Greene- 
ville, nearly three years before, had passed away. Men could 
scarcely realize the change. That imperious power which then 
dominated the State, and held in subjection the minds of men, 
had been swept from its confines. The national government 
now exercised its old dominion and sovereignty over Tennessee. 
With this change, there had also come a change in the opinions 
of some of the former prominent Union leaders. I know not 
the cause of this change never did know but some of those 
who in 1861 were most bitter, were now complaining of the 
administration, were clamoring for an armistice with the view 
of treating for peace, were demanding "the Constitution as it 
was." The Convention lasted four days, and was marked by 
angry debates and divisions from beginning to close. Mr. 
Carter was perhaps the leader of the conservative or opposi- 
tion forces. He was the author of their resolutions. Mr. John- 
son, Mr. Brownlow, and Colonel D. C. Trewhitt were the leaders 
in sustaining the policy of Mr. Lincoln. Finally, Mr. Milligan, 
the life-long and intimate friend of Mr. Johnson, and probably 
at his suggestion, seeing that only harm could result from fur- 
ther discussion, moved that this celebrated Convention should 
adjourn forever. The motion was adopted, and the angry 
resolutions on both sides were left to die. 

Mr. Carter still lives (June, 1901), in the eighty-first year of 
his age, but alas ! a physical wreck.* He has been prostrate 
for many years, and recently there has fallen on him the 
additional affliction of total blindness. In a letter to me a few 
months since he said : "I am still cheerful, and trust in God 


He died In 1902. 


His mind burns with the brightness of 1861, when he was a 
power among the loyal people of his mountain-encircled region. 
Mr. Carter was in person tall, straight, slender, and grace- 
ful. If he was not in his prime superbly handsome like his 
brother, Admiral Samuel P. Carter, he was certainly striking 
in appearance. His peculiar dark complexion, his foreign look, 
(perhaps due to his Pocahontas blood), his delicate features, 
his neat, elegant dress, his lithe form and graceful carriage, 
his soft, musical voice, his bright, keen eyes and peculiar smile, 
all tended to attract attention, and to cause men to gaze at 
him. But, above all, his remarkble intellect was the magnet 
that drew men to him and gave him his power. He was born 
in the midst of hallowed associations, on the banks of the his' 
toric Watauga, the cradle of civilization in Tennessee. Off 
in the distance, only a few miles, there rises in lofty outline, 
stretching east and west, a panorama of mountains as grand 
as ever met human vision. Here John Sevier and John Carter, 
great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch, had wisely 
administered for a number of years their new government, the 
creation of their own minds, the first free representative 
government in the Mississippi Valley. Here too, on this very 
spot, James Robinson and John Sevier had successfully de- 
fended the Watauga Settlement against the attack of the power- 
ful Cherokees. Near this spot, September, 1780, the expedi- 
tion to King's Mountain, under Colonels Shelby, Sevier, and 
Campbell, started on its long and perilous march through 
the wilderness of mountains for the purpose of destroying 
the army of Colonel Ferguson. Surely this is an historic spot. 
"Ay, call it holy ground!" 


Born 1795 A Whig, but Became a Democrat in 1855 Violent Unionist 
Defiant of Confederate Government Wooden Cannon Agreement with 
James W. Gillespie Courier Line Between Knoxville and Chatta- 
nooga In Prison Atlanta Escape Died in Ninety-first Year. 

One of the most interesting characters living in East Ten- 
nessee in 1861, was William Clift of Hamilton County, who 
was born in Greene County, in 1795. His parents moved to 
Knox County, where he grew into manhood. In 1828 he 
married Nancy Arwin Brooks, a daughter of Moses Brooks, 
who resided near Knoxville. Shortly after this he removed to 
Hamilton County, settling at Soddy. He invested largely in 
lands in the neighborhood, which, by reason of the development 
and growth of the country, became valuable, proving a source 
of independence to his children. A man of enterprise, he em- 
barked in the construction and operation of a saw and grist 
mill; he encouraged the building of railroads, and by his in- 
fluence promoted all schemes calculated to stimulate the growth 
of the country. In a word, he was public spirited, ever doing 
his duty to his county and his State as a good citizen. 

William Clift was originally a Whig, but in 1855, in the days 
of Know-Nothingism, he became a Democrat, and remained so 
for life. In 1860 he supported Stephen A. Douglas for the 
presidency. When the dark clouds of secession were gathering, 
in 1860-61, the government had no truer or braver friend than 
him. He was indeed a violent Unionist. In the Knoxville and 
Greeneville Conventions, he was a member of the "Business Com- 
mittee" of thirty, advocating the most extreme measures pro- 
posed. As a member of the Committee he helped to report the 
quasi war resolutions of T. A. R. Nelson in the Greeneville 
Convention, supporting them by a speech. In conversation he 
was one of the most ultra among the ultraists of East Ten- 
nessee in opposition to secession. 

After the Greeneville Convention, he became a leader of the 
Union men for a considerable region of country. These were 
largely mountain people. His son I. W. Clift, writes me: 



"During these trying times my father's home was a refuge 
to those sharing his sentiments which were to support the old 
government at all hazards and it was not an uncommon thing 
to see hundreds of stalwart men, men from the mountains, the 
citadel of freedom, men from the hills, the hollows and the 
plains, men from all parts of lower East Tennessee, assembled 
at our home for advice and protection. The writer has seen 
from five hundred to a thousand men so assembled, and so bold 
did they become that, right in the heart of the Confederacy, 
as they were, they proceeded to a military organization. Several 
companies and a regiment were organized for the Federal 
Government by my father in Hamilton County, in the summer 
of 1862." 

There was no spot in all East Tennessee, excepting Carter 
County at the time of the bridge burning, where there was 
such flagrant and open defiance of Confederate authority as at 
the home of Colonel Clift. He was the head and soul of it. He 
flung defiance in the face of the young, haughty and imperious 
power, as though it were governed by imbeciles and cowards. 
He openly organized companies of troops, and proceeded to 
erect fortifications around his house, as if expecting to stay 
there permanently. He also manufactured a cannon. The 
tradition is that it was a wooden cannon made by boring 
a hole in a log of the right size, putting hoops of iron 
around it and mounting it. The tradition is also that it ex- 
ploded the first time it was discharged. But I. W. Clift, from 
whom I have quoted above, says that the report that it was a 
wooden cannon is in part a mistake. "It was constructed," says 
he, "of a copper boiler tube, perhaps three inches in diameter, 
fitted into two pieces of timber split open at the saw mill, the 
center of each piece grooved out so as to fit around the tube, 
the timbers put together with the tube in the center, and almost 
solidly bandaged with iron bands made in the shop." 

Such notorious opposition to the Confederate authority could 
not be tolerated, and accordingly Colonel James W. Gillespie 
of the Confederate Army, was sent to break up the encampment 
at Cliffs. Instead of attacking and dispersing the rebellious 
Union men, the two chiefs entered into a treaty of amity and 
peace, duly signed and sealed by the two high contracting 
parties, by which they "mutually agreed to let each other 
alone." Here was a model for the nations which are seeking to 


settle international disputes by arbitration ! Gillespie agreed 
that the Union people of lower East Tennessee, and especially 
those who had been so aggressive in upholding the Federal 
Government, should not be molested, provided they ceased their 
public assemblies, returned to their homes, and attended to their 
own affairs. I. W. Clift, from whom I have quoted, says : "This 
agreement was consented to and signed by all parties, by Colonel 
Clift and his men, and Colonel Gillespie for the Confederate 

Colonel Gillespie, living in the adjoining county, was a neigh- 
bor of many of these men, and was a kind-hearted and honorable 
man. The generous treatment he accorded Colonel Cliffs men 
indeed, manifested toward the Union men throughout the war, 
was in harmony with his fine nature. It would have been in- 
finitely better for the Confederate Government if in dealing with 
Union men the magnanimous spirit displayed by Gillespie had 
prevailed in all East Tennessee. It would have made thousands 
of friends, instead of sending tens of thousands of refugees over 
the border, to return in the course of time as armed enemies. 

This agreement between Clift and Gillespie produced peace for 
a time, but it did not endure long. It is well-nigh, if not alto- 
gether, impossible, for antagonistic populations to live together 
in peace in the same community in time of civil war. There arose 
in this case mutual distrust, and unrest and disquiet were soon 
manifest. Mutterings were heard from the Union men of the 
violation of good faith on the part of the Confederate authori- 
ties. This was especially caused by some arrests of Union men. 
The Union supporters once more flocked to Colonel Cliffs 
house, and open defiance of the Confederate government became 
as bold as before. It was at this stage of the war that Colonel 
Clift manufactured his cannon and erected the fortifications 
around his house. Before these were finished, however, the 
Confederate authorities sent troops to destroy the puissant 
power which had lifted its haughty crest in their very midst. 
The 7th Alabama Infantry approached from the South, and 
mounted Tennessee troops from the North. These forces com- 
ing upon Colonel Clift before he was ready to fight "stampeded 
all his forces," and destroyed the rising power of the Unionists 
in lower East Tennessee. It then fell out that each man pro- 
ceeded to save himself by flight, remembering, no doubt, that 
"The paths of glory lead but to the grave," 


and reflecting that the government needed living soldiers rather 
than dead heroes, they discreetly saved themselves that they 
might "live to fight another day." There was in all this no dis- 
position to avoid fighting, but at that time they had simply 
been taken unawares. Colonel Clift, like the old Roman he 
was, was all fight. He knew no fear. 

I do not know of the date of these transactions, but they 
must have occurred in November, 1861. On the 11th of that 
month, the Rev. W. B. Wood, commanding the post of Knox- 
ville, telegraphed to Adjutant General Cooper, at Richmond, 
as follows: "Five hundred Union men now threatening Straw- 
berry Plains ; fifteen hundred assembling in Hamilton County, 
and a general uprising in all counties." 

On the same day the Rev. Colonel wrote to General Cooper: 
"Five hundred Unionists left Hamilton County to-day, we sup- 
pose to attack Loudon bridge." Loudon bridge was about 
eighty-five miles from Colonel Cliffs encampment. No doubt 
these communications had reference to the forces assembled 
there. The wildness of the statements is not surprising for 
this was only two days after the railroad bridges of East Ten- 
nessee were burned (on the night of November 8th, 1861). 
The nerves of the Reverend gentlemen were too much shaken 
for careful sifting of facts. 

The alarm created among Confederate troops and Southern 
sympathisers by the burning of the bridges, indeed, the insane 
fright that followed, can not be described by word or pen. It 
would have been laughable as a grand farce, had it not been 
for the wail of anguish which arose from hundreds of families 
in East Tennessee, whose fathers, husbands, and sons were 
thrown into prison on that account. A thousand imprisonments 
would not measure the number. Despair at once settled on the 
minds and hearts of Union people. No man, high or obscure, 
felt himself safe from arrest. The prisons were full to overflow- 
ing. The gallows was demanding its victims. Prisons farther 
South were opening their doors to the Union men of the moun- 
tains, who were hurried thither without trial, some never to 
return. In this state of unsafety, menaced by danger at every 
step, they almost with one impulse sought safety in flight, 
and became exiles from a land they loved as life itself. 

When the bridges were burned, by preconcerted arrange- 
ment, the Federal Army was to have followed into East Ten- 


nessee. But the plans were changed the last moment, and the 
little army of advance was recalled, and ordered to retrace its 
steps. At the very time the excitement and the alarm were at 
their height, there was not a Federal soldier within the bounds 
of East Tennessee except two, and they were hiding and seek- 
ing to make their way back to Kentucky. The invading army 
that was to come was then sadly M^ending its way beyond Loudon, 
among the hills of Wild Cat and Rockcastle, toward Camp 
Dick Robinson. And yet, strange to say, the intense bitterness, 
and the arrests and imprisonments and occasional executions, 
continued months after all supposed danger had long gone by. 
What folly it was to drive these determined Union men, who 
wished to remain home as producers on their farms, into the 
ranks of the enemy, whence they finally came back as armed 
soldiers, with many a wrong to redress. 

It was at the time of this excitement that Clift was threatened 
with an assault by the enemy. His son, from whose statement 
I have drawn many of my facts, says : "Unfortunately for 
Colonel Clift the Confederates interrupted him before his gun 
was entirely completed, and it fell into the hands of the enemy 
before he had an opportunity to use it. These plans, how- 
ever, were all interfered with before completion, and all his de- 
fenses fell into the hands of his vigilant enemy ; his cannon 
was blown up and himself became a fugitive, hunted in the 
mountains and hills as Saul hunted David." It was not fair 
that he was "interrupted" before his gun was completed. He 
should have had a chance to try it. 

It may be remarked that in the battle of Cressy, or Crecy, 
fought in 1346, between the French and English, the latter 
used wooden cannons with terrific eflfect. A late writer thus 
described them: 

"These bombards were small cannons made of wooden staves, 
clamped by iron bands and loaded with gun-powder and stones, 
or iron balls. The battle of Cressy was the first in which 
artillery was used."* 

After the disaster to Colonel Clift and his forces, he and most 
of his men made their way into Kentucky, where he organized 
the 7th Tennessee Regiment of Infantry. I have the impres- 
sion that while on his way to Kentucky, or the next spring, 

"The Story of France," by Thomas E. Watson, Vol. I, p. 203. 


most probably the latter time, he and his men had a duel with 
Colonel A. J. Vaughn's Confederate regiment, at Huntsville, 
in Scott County, Tennessee, at long range, which resulted in 
no serious damage to either side. He remained in Kentucky, 
sometimes drilling his men, and was in the advance when the 
time arrived for the long-expected and long-delayed march into 
East Tennessee, for the relief of the Union people was com- 
menced by General Burnside. He was assigned to duty, by 
written order, under General Shackelford, and by him placed in 
command of the advance guard and pioneer corps from Crab 
Orchard, Ky., to Kingston, Tenn. Here he was detailed by 
General Burnside, and placed in charge of the courier line from 
Knoxville to Chattanooga. While on this duty, on October 24, 

1863, he was captured by a raiding party, and imprisoned for 
a long time in Atlanta, whence he made his escape, and made 
his way back through the mountains of North Carolina and 
East Tennessee, during the extremely cold weather of January, 

1864, hiding out by day and traveling at night. He suffered 
intensely from cold and exposure, from biting frosts, cold rains, 
and snow. His feet were so frost bitten that he could not wear 
shoes, and, wrapped in rags as a protection, he arrived at home 
about the first of February, 1864. The exposures of this trip 
were almost without parallel in the annals of history or 
romance. They terminated in a long and severe illness, in 
which he lost one of his eyes, the sight of the other being 
greatly impaired. Finally, in August, he again reported for 
duty, but he was deemed unfit for further service by reason of 
combined age and affliction. Thus terminated the military 
service of this remarkable man. He never wavered in his faith 
in the final triumph of the Union in its mighty struggle. 

When the war closed, strife ceased with Colonel Clift. He 
was the friend alike of those who had worn the blue and of 
the destitute wearers of the gray. The latter needed and often 
secured his assistance. How noble it would have been if all 
persons had acted with the same magnanimous, forgiving spirit 
toward their late misguided fellow citizens, who were equally 
honest with themselves in the course they had pursued. Each 
side, excepting the few ambitious leaders who inaugurated the 
war, was honest and pursued the right as it saw it. After the 
lapse of more than forty years men everywhere begin to see 
that each party from a certain point of view was right. 



Colonel Clift was a stern, brave, conscientious man. He made 
no compromise with duty or principle. He was outwardly in 
action and speech what he was inwardly in thought and con- 
science an honest man through and through. I do not know 
from what race he was descended, but he was in all his ways of the 
similitude of a sturdy old Scotch-Irish Covenanter, always seek- 
ing to do his duty and God's will. He was a Presbyterian in 
faith, and a ruling elder in the Soddy Church. 

He was a devoted friend of the poor, and his son tells of the 
cunning methods he devised to give them work. One was this : 
he would have men prepare the ground for planting corn 
by the hoe only, although he had numerous plows and teams, 
in order to lengthen out the job of the dependent laborers. 
Noble man! 

Thus passed the declining old age of this stern man of war, 
peacefully and calmly, until, in his ninety-first year, like a well- 
ripened sheaf of wheat, he was gathered to his Father. 


Father from Maryland Mexican War Greeneville Convention Drilled 
Men on the Farms Second Refugee At Cumberland Gap, Chicka- 
mauga, Nashville Internal Revenue Collector at Knoxville Greatest 
Union Soldier. 

In writing of Union leaders the name of Joseph A. Cooper 
cannot be omitted. While he was not an orator, and could not 
dazzle men by beautiful words and phrases, yet withal he was 
a leader of men. His sharp, quick voice, with its tone of 
authority, and with a positiveness inborn of strong conviction, 
made men yield to him. He was naturall}^ but unconsciously 
imperious, though strictly regardful of the rights of others. 
His conduct arose from an inward consciousness of strength, 
and from positive opinions. 

General Cooper was born at Cumberland Falls, Ky., Novem- 
ber 25, 1823, and came with his father when a child to Cove 
Creek, Campbell Co. The father, John Cooper, was a native 
of Maryland and served in the War of 1812. His son was 
reared on a farm amid the hardships incidental to the frontier 
life. Schools were few and poor, with the result that he had 
but little education. But nature supplied a bright intellect, clear 
judgment, and keen moral sense. In all his instincts he was 
an honest man, and he had no patience with anything that was 
not open and straightforward. His spirit was too independent 
for any concealment or equivocation. These qualities were 
conspicuous in him through all his eventful life. 

Joseph A. Cooper enlisted in September, 1847, as a volunteer, 
to serve in the army in Mexico. He reached the City of IVIexico, 
in January, 1848, and left it to return home the June fol- 

After his return, he cultivated a small farm in Campbell 
County, not far from Jacksboro. In the civil contest of 1860 
and in the early part of 1861, he was an attentive obser\'cr of 
passing events. Being an old-line Whig, he naturally supported 
the Union ticket for the Presidency in 1860. There was no 
more ardent Union man than he in all the borders of East 



Tennessee, and but few private citizens who exerted so much 
influence. He was a delegate to the great Union Convention 
in Knoxville. By it resolutions declaring an unalterable at- 
tachment to the Union were passed unanimously. When this 
convention again assembled in Greeneville, Tenn., on the 17th 
of June, Mr. Cooper was the only delegate from Campbell 
County. He served on the "Business Committee," consisting of 
thirty-one members, one for each county, to which was referred, 
without debate, all resolutions submitted to the Convention, 
Judge Connally F. Trigg being its chairman. The excitement 
in the convention was bitter and intense. An overwhelming 
majority of the members were opposed to submitting to 
the action of the State in allying its destiny with the fortunes 
of the Southern Confederacy. There were at first only a few 
members who were opposed to this mad scheme of resistance. 
The great body of the Convention could not realize that they 
had already passed under the rule of a young but powerful 
revolutionary-military government, amply able to suppress in 
any quarter of its dominion the first uprising of the people. 
They were to find this out a little later on. They had not the 
faintest conception of the strength and the rage of the young 
giant born at Montgomery only a few months before. jNIr. 
Cooper, in common with his whole committee of thlrt}'^, shared 
in this feeling. 

The President of the Convention, Hon. T. A. R. Nelson, had 
early in Its deliberations, submitted a very able paper, entitled 
a "Declaration of Grievances," accompanied b}"^ some defiant 
resolutions. These resolutions virtually declared the Independ- 
ence of East Tennessee. These papers, along with a multi- 
tude of others, were referred without debate to the Business 
Committee. On the afternoon of the third day that Committee 
unanimously reported to the Convention the resolutions of Mr. 
Nelson, with the recommendation that they be adopted. I imme- 
diately offered a substitute, which declared our right "to deter- 
mine our own destiny" in the then pending conflict, that the 
action of the Legislature in passing an ordinance of seces- 
sion was unconstitutional and Illegal, and therefore not binding 
upon the people of East Tennessee, and that a memorial be sent 
to the Legislature asking its consent that East Tennessee be 
permitted to form and erect Itself into a State. After a spirited 
dabate, lasting all the afternoon, in which a number of the 


leading members of the Convention participated, and an earnest 
effort to defeat the substitute, the original resolutions of Mr. 
Nelson and the substitute, on motion of Mr. Cooper, were 
referred back to the Committee for reconsideration.* The next 
morning the Committee, reversing its action of the day before, 
unanimously reported in favor of the adoption of the substi- 
tute. This report was finally adopted by the Convention, in 
the language of the Secretary seriatem et una voce but not with- 
out an effort on the part of Nelson and Robert Johnson (son 
of Andrew Johnson) to renew the fight, in favor of the ultra 
and extreme measures at first recommended by the Committee. 

The antagonistic views of the members of this celebrated 
convention were reconciled and made harmonious by this meas- 
ure of peace. The members at last came to a solemn realiza- 
tion of the fact that the two opposing measures presented for 
consideration represented the issues of peace or civil war for 
East Tennessee. As Mr. Cooper expressed the situation to 
me, although in the opening of the convention, he, like nine- 
tenths of the members, was in favor of fighting on our own soil 
rather than yield to the Southern Confederacy, he at lust saw 
that such a course would "make East Tennessee a hell."* 

In the debate which followed, when I offered my substitute, 
the persons taking part in the discussion in favor of its adop- 
tion were John Baxter, Montgomery Thornburgh, Horace 
Majnard, A. J. Brown, and myself; those favoring the original 
resolutions of Nelson, Avere Thomas D. Arnold, W. B. Carter, 
William Clift, James P. Swann, V. Myers, and J. T. Davis. 
When the substitute was presented it was by no means certain 
in my mind that it would receive a second, so strong was the 
feeling in favor of violent measures. During the discussion 
the great majority of the Convention began for the first time 
to realize that they were madly rushing to their own ruin, if 
they persisted in the course recommended by the Conmiittce. 

The positive character of Joseph A. Cooper was exemplified 
by a little incident which took place just before the adjourn- 
ment of the Convention. W. C. Kyle and John Blevins pre- 

*Mr. Cooper informed me a few days ago (November, 1901) that he 
made the motion to recommit, a fact which I had forgotten and which 
does not appear in the published account of the proceedings. 

*For a full account of this Convention the reader is referred to "East 
Tennessee and the Civil War," by the author. 


sented a paper protesting "against the action of the Conven- 
tion," but in what respect they did not say. A motion was 
made to lay the protest on the table. "Yes," said Cooper, 
"lay it under the table forever," 

Notwithstanding Cooper, for the sake of peace and the safety 
of the people of East Tennessee, voted for the milder resolutions, 
his mind seems to have been intent only on war. In the commit- 
tee room he entered into a secret agreement with Robert K. Byrd 
of Roane County, R. M. Edwards of Bradley, and S. C. Honey- 
cutt and E. Langley of Morgan, that they would go home to 
their respective counties and commence secretly raising and 
drilling soldiers. Cooper returned to Campbell County, and by 
the 1st of August had organized and drilled more than five 
hundred men, most of whom afterward joined the Union army 
in Kentucky. He worked on his farm during the day, and at 
night traveled from house to house stirring up the Union people, 
returning the next day to his plow. On Saturdays he met 
these people for muster in the old fields, in out-of-the-way places, 
and gave them such instruction in military tactics as he had 
gained in the Mexican War. 

Here was a real leader. Without the gift of oratory, with- 
out wealth or the prestige of distinction, or a great name, by 
the mere force of a superior will, by determination, and by the 
fire and ardor of burning patriotism, he inspired and led men. 
Few could have done this. 

When the first Confederate troops under Captain Rowan 
reached Big Creek Gap, Campbell Coimty, Cooper immediately 
made arrangements to meet and attack them with his mountain 
men, but by the advice of cooler headed friends decided not to 
do so. He was not content, however, with his position. He 
wished to have a hand in the war. If he could not fight the 
enemies of the government at home, he would go where he could. 
Accordingly on the 1st of August, in the afternoon, he bade his 
family good-by, saying: "I am going to the war; I may be 
gone a year, perhaps three years, or I may never return." That 
night he began his travel through the mountains, arriving on the 
borders of Kentucky the next morning. On the day follow- 
ing, hundreds of the men whom he had drilled followed and 
joined him at Williamsburg. 

Joseph A. Cooper, so far as is known to me, was the second 
East Tennessee refugee who left home with a fixed purpose of 


entering the Union army. Fred Heiskell, of Knox County, was 
unquestionably the first. On the 16th day of April he left home, 
on the 18th he was in Louisville, and on the 20th or 21st, he en- 
listed in Captain W. W. Woodruff's 1st Kentucky Regiment, 
serving as a brave soldier to the close of the war. 

Cooper enlisted at Williamsburg, Ky., on the 4th of August, 
and on the same day he organized a company of the 1st Tennessee 
Infantry, and on the 8th was mustered into service as Captain 
by Lieutenant Samuel P. Carter, afterward a Major General 
of Volunteers. The 185 Tennesseeans, besides forming Co. A, 
were distributed among companies B, C, and H, of the 1st Regi- 
ment, and Co. C, of the 2d. Thus Cooper led the way through 
the mountains as a refugee, was the second volunteer of the 
State, and organized the first company and was its Captain 
in the 1st Regiment of Tennessee troops in the Union Army a 
record of which his children may justly feel proud. Of the 
35,000 Tennessee troops in the Union Army he was the second 
to enlist, and was Captain of the first company. 

Robert K. Byrd was made the Colonel of the 1st Regiment, 
and commanded it with honor to himself and to the State till 
near the close of the war. On the 22d of March, 1862, 
Captain Cooper was made Colonel of the 6th Tennessee Regi- 
ment of Infantry, which he had partly raised, and which he 
commanded with distinction until July 30th, 1864. He was 
then made a Brigadier General, for distinguished bravery in 
the terrible battles in Georgia, on the recommendation of Gen- 
erals Sherman and Schofield. 

It would be beyond the scope of these sketches to give in 
detail the history of the many battles and skirmishes in which 
Cooper was engaged. I give only a brief outline of them. 
He was with General George H. Thomas in the decisive battle 
and victory at Fishing Creek, Kentucky, January 18th. 1862, 
where the Commander of the Confederate forces, General Felix 
K. Zollicoffer was killed. Starting from Cumberland Gap in 
September with 400 men, after a long march of two days, on 
the north side of the mountain, he encountered the enemy at 
Big Creek Gap, Tenn., and after a sharp engagement routed 
them, capturing an entire company of cavalry. The enemy's 
loss was ten men killed, eight wounded, and ninety-five taken 
as prisoners, and eighty-seven horses captured. Among the 
killed were two Captains and an aide of General Smith. Colonel 


Cooper received in a general order the special thanks of Gen- 
eral Morgan. 

In September Cumberland Gap was vacated by General 
George W. Morgan, who commenced his noted retreat through 
the mountains of Northeastern Kentucky to the Ohio River. 
Cooper with his regiment accompanied him, sharing in all the 
dangers and hardships of the long march. His command was 
afterward sent to Nashville, and on the 31st day of December, 
1862, he was ordered to guard an ammunition train to Stone 
River, the great battle of that name having opened on the 31st. 
On the march he was attacked by General Wheeler's Cavalry, 
which he repulsed, saving the train. 

In September, 1863, he arrived in Chattanooga in time for the 
battle of Chickamauga, and participated in its closing scenes, 
skirmishing two days with the enemy on Lookout Mountain. 
He was absent on duty, guarding several points on the Ten- 
nessee River above Chattanooga, at the time of the famous 
battle under the command of Grant. After the battle of 
Chattanooga he marched to Knoxville, and remained in East 
Tennessee during the winter of 1863-6-1, participating in the 
many skirmishes and engagements with Longstreet's army. 

In April he marched to Dalton, Ga., for the purpose of taking 
part in the memorable Georgia Campaign then just opening, 
and was assigned to the command of a brigade. Colonel 
Cooper's brigade was in the battle of Resaca, Ga., losing 
more than one-third of the effective men of the brigade, either 
killed or wounded. For more than two months his command 
was daily actively engaged in one of the most brilliant cam- 
paigns on record. It was his gallantry and skill displayed 
throughout this campaign that induced Generals Sherman and 
Schofield to recommend Cooper for a Brigadier General. 

When General Hood started in the direction of Nashville, and 
General Thomas' army was detached to follow him, General 
Cooper, of course, went with it. Arriving with his command 
near Nashville, he found that Hood's forces had surrounded 
that city, and that his brigade was cut off. His command 
could be saved from capture only by a long forced march. 
He had been on such a march for twelve hours previously, yet 
his decision was instantly made. Without consulting anyone, he 
ordered his artillery and command to face about, and at once 
commenced a march which lasted without rest, all night and 


part of the next day. He forced a countryman who knew 
all the roads to guide him under the penalty of death in case 
of betrayal. Turning southwardly and westwardly he made 
his way by a circuitous route to Clarksville, distant from 
Nashville about sixty miles ; then crossed the Cumberland River 
and got on the north side of it. By this winding march he 
traveled nearly one hundred miles in the retreat. From Clarks- 
ville he marched to Nashville, arriving there on the 8th of 
December, having accomplished this long march in six days, or, 
excluding the day he rested in Clarksville, in five days, a 
distance of one hundred and fifty or sixty miles. The report 
had been published that he and his command had been cap- 
tured. He was therefore enthusiastically received by the Army 
in Nashville. This march, in the estimation of military men, 
was conducted with rare skill, evincing high military ability. 

In the battles around Nashville of the 15th and 16th of 
December, 1864, the troops under the command of General 
Cooper had a brilliant share. The trophies won by his force 
were an entire brigade of Confederate troops and two pieces of 
artillery, after a dashing charge in an open field. "For gal- 
lant and meritorious services at Nashville" he was afterward 
appointed a Major General by brevet. 

On the 15th of January, 1865, General Cooper was assigned 
to the command of the Second Division, Twenty-third Army 
Corps, and two days later he, with his division, started in a fleet 
of boats down the Tennessee and up the Ohio, with the view 
of transportation to the field of active operations in North 
Carolina, where he arrived on the 23d of February. On the 
27th of the same month, by virtue of an order from General 
Schofield, he was granted a leave of absence, and immediately 
left for home, from which he had been continuously absent since 
August 1, 1861. In April he returned to his command, then 
operating near Goldsboro. After the close of active operations, 
he was ordered to report for duty at Nashville to General 
Thomas, commanding the Department of the Cumberland. On 
the 28th of December, 1865, he was "honorably mustered out 
of the service of the United States, to date from January 15, 

Thus retired from the Volunteer army one of the bravest and 
most faithful of the many officers who had conducted to a suc- 
cessful conclusion the greatest war known in history. Return- 


ing to his old home, General Cooper settled near Knoxville, on 
a farm, among his late companions in arms, and among the 
loyal people who were proud of the glory he had won in the war. 
Everywhere he was hailed as a modest soldier and hero who 
had done his duty faithfully. He was regarded as by far the 
greatest soldier in the Union army which Tennessee produced 
during the Civil War. Modesty and simplicity of manner 
added to his merit. There was never any boasting of deeds, 
nor the least show of vainglory. 

During eight years of Grant's administration and a part 
of Hayes', General Cooper was Internal Revenue Collector for 
the Knoxville District. In 1880 he moved to Kansas, hoping to 
better his fortune, for he was always a poor man. He is there 
engaged in farming at this time (1901), and I am glad to 
know that he is surrounded in his old age at least with the com- 
forts of life. Recently he visited his old home in Tennessee; 
he came back to see once more his old companions and to bid 
them a last adieu. While he was in Knoxville there was a 
reunion of the survivors of the 3d Tennessee, and of the 6th, 
which he raised and so long commanded. It was a sad spectacle 
to see the tears streaming down the furrowed cheeks of those 
gray-haired veterans, bent with age, as they grasped for the last 
time the hand of their idolized commander. 

General Cooper was positive and outspoken, but within there 
beat a kind and honest heart. He was true and sincere in all 
things, and had no patience with pretenses, simulation, or false- 
hoods in any form. Brave he was as the bravest. Faithful to 
duty in its minutest details, he always had the entire confidence 
of his superiors. During a long life he performed every trust 
committed to him, either as a citizen or a soldier, with the 
strictest fidelity. Blessed with a clear intellect, he was always 
able to see the right and to follow It with unfaltering persistence. 
As a soldier he believed he was in the army to fight, and there- 
fore he was always ready to fight. When a battle was on, he 
went where danger and duty called. His soldiers caught the 
spirit of their leader. So well were they trained, and so com- 
pletely had they caught his mind and spirit that in the battle of 
Nashville, at the proper moment, without the word of command, 
they sprang forward, with a common impulse along the whole 
line, in a charge, sweeping over an open field with resistless 
might, driving everything before them, and capturing a brigade 
of the enemy and two pieces of artillery. 


Early Settler of Chattanooga Replied to Jefiferson Davis Sought Safety 

in Union Army. 

One of the strikingly unique Union leaders of East Tennessee 
was William Crutchfield of Chattanooga. His father, Thomas 
Crutchfield, was a large brick contractor, and resided at one 
time in Greeneville, Tenn., where William was born. He moved 
to Chattanooga early in its histor}^, perhaps while that place 
was still called Ross' Landing, and while William was a mere 
boy. The father prospered in his new home, becoming the owner 
of valuable property in the young city and in the country, 
which ultimately made his children independent. He was a man 
of shrewdness and much forethought. He built the hotel known 
for many years as the Crutchfield House, right in the heart of 
the city, now known as the Read House, but greatly enlarged 
and improved. It was then the leading hotel of Chattanooga. 
On the death of the father it was kept by his two sons, Thomas 
and William. 

William Crutchfield was eccentric and peculiar beyond de- 
scription. He was vehement in manner and impetuous in action. 
Yet, with all his violence of manner, his heart was as kind and 
as true as ever beat in the human breast. And he was brave, 
too, to the verge of desperation. 

When the question of secession was presented to the people 
of Tennessee in the winter of ]861, Crutchfield was fearless and 
outspoken in his opposition to it, and used all his influence to 
defeat its accomplishment. He was an ardent Whig, and there- 
fore was most naturally opposed to that mad and unwise 
measure. His opposition to it gave rise to a dramatic incident, 
widely talked of at that time, and still remembered by old citi- 

Jefferson Davis, ha\'ing resigned his seat in the Senate of 
the United States after the secession of Mississippi, which 
State he represented, was on his way home and stopped at 
the Crutchfield House in Chattanooga. That hotel was then 
owned by the Crutchfield heirs, and was run by Thomas Crutch- 



field. The facts before me do not make it clear whether or 
not William was one of the proprietors. The presence of so 
distinguished a person as Mr. Davis naturally created a desire 
among his friends, and perhaps others, also, to hear him speak 
on the great questions then convulsing the countr3^ Accord- 
ingl}'^ he was waited upon by some of the leading citizens and re- 
quested to make a speech. He at first declined, but being urged 
further, consented to do so. He spoke from a chair in the office 
or lobby of the hotel. His address was short probably not 
exceeding twenty or twenty-five minutes and dignified, as all 
his speeches were, and with nothing personally offensive in it. 
He avowed himself a secessionist, and contended that the States 
had the constitutional right to secede from the Union at their 
sovereign will. Judge D. M. Key, afterward Postmaster Gen- 
eral under President Hayes, who was a secessionist, and was 
present, says in a letter to me, that Mr. Davis "made a short 
talk, very moderate in its character; it had nothing in it per- 
sonal or offensive in expression or manner." 

When Mr. Davis concluded, he, with Judge Key and S. R. 
McCamy, retired to "a saloon" in an adjoining room, or up- 
stairs, according to another account. William Crutchfield, who 
had been listening v.ith restless interest while he was speaking, 
then jumped upon the clerk's counter, and in an excited manner 
commenced replying. He arraigned Mr. Davis and his asso- 
ciates for deserting their seats in Congress when they were 
in the majority, and might have prevented any hostile legis- 
lation to the institutions of the South. He rebuked him for 
interfering in the election then pending in Tennessee, by advis- 
ing the people to vote for a Convention, which was virtually 
for secession. He said that Mr. Davis, instead of advising 
Tennesseeans to break up the Union, could better employ his 
time by advising the people of his own State to pay their honest 
debts, which they had repudiated. He denounced Mr. Davis 
in broad terms as a traitor to his country. Judge Key says, 
on this point: "Mr, Crutchfield did nothing so far as I can 
remember in inducing Mr. Davis to speak, but he was an ardent 
Unionist of irascible temperament, who did not mince language 
when he was aroused. Thoroughly honest and bold in the 
expression of his opinions, he used vigorous and bitter terms." 

Mr. Davis was informed of what was going on while Crutch- 
field was speaking, and came back to the lobby. About that 


time, the excitement becoming very great, Thomas Crutchfield, 
a brother and proprietor of the House, pulled William off the 
counter, and he and other friends hurried him out of the room. 
Mr. Davis, again mounting a chair, said that "he understood 
that a person present had, when his back was turned, aspersed 
his motives and conduct. That person was no gentleman, and 
he could afford to have no controversy with him, but if he 
had a friend who was a gentleman he would settle the matter 
with him." 

According to the account of the affair given by ^Ir. Crutch- 
field himself, hereafter referred to, he responded to Mr. Davis by 
saying: "I am ready to meet you now or any time hereafter." 
About this time the click of pistols could be heard in the 

Another and somewhat different account of Mr. Davis' re- 
appearance, given by Mr. Crutchfield, but not written by him, 
was published in the Canteen, a paper published in Washington, 
D. C, in 1891. In reply to the question of Mr. Davis, demand- 
ing to know whether the gentlemen present would endorse the 
speaker as a responsible and reputable man, adding that if 
they would do so, he (Davis) would hold him responsible per- 
sonally. Voices in the crowd responded that Mr. Crutchfield 
was in every way a gentleman. The other witnesses, from 
whose testimony I have been quoting, say nothing about this 
response of the crowd. The witnesses differ as to many im- 
material points, as it is most natural they should do after the 
lapse of so many years, but there is a substantial concurrence 
as to the main facts. 

Mr. Crutchfield, according to most of the witnesses, made 
no reply to Mr. Davis' denunciation and implied challenge. 
Major Tankersley, a warm friend of Mr. Davis, says he does 
not think Mr. Crutchfield made any reply to Mr. Davis ; if he 
did, he did not hear him. Judge Lewis Shepherd, who was 
present, says : "The crowd assembled at the Crutchfield House 
were mostly admirers of Mr. Davis, they were hot-headed se- 
cessionists, and when jNlr. Crutchfield mounted the counter 
there were at least fifty pistols drawn and cocked for immediate 
use. The clicking of these pistols must have been heard by 
Crutchfield, and he understood that most of them would be used, 
if trouble ensued, to repel the supposed insult to Mr. Davis. 
When the latter used the epithet I have quoted he was powerless 


to resist it, if he had tried. The fury of the men forced him to 
quit speaking, and forced him off the counter he had mounted." 

When Mr. Davis began speaking, Mrs. Davis and Mrs. 
Thomas Crutchfield, and perhaps other ladies, came down- 
stairs and stood in the doorway to hear him. When Mr. 
Crutchfield commenced his reply, and the pistols began their 
ominous clicking, these ladies, says Judge Shepherd, manifested 
their fright by screaming. 

It is stated by one person that "when the excitement was 
at its height, the lights were blown out, and several pistols 
fired, though fortunately no one was hurt." 

I have thus given the main facts of this affair, as they can 
be gathered from the statements of the various witnesses who 
were living at the time they occurred. This scene created quite a 
sensation at the time it took place, not only in Tennessee, but 
throughout the South. Mr. Crutchfield in consequence of this 
diflSculty became an object of bitter animosity on the part of 
the secessionists. A little later on, when they became dominant, 
and Confederate soldiers were stationed in Chattanooga, or were 
passing through it, his life was in constant danger, and he 
had to keep in close concealment. At last he was forced secretly 
to leave his home at night, and seek safety under the protecting 
care of the Union army. When that army entered Chatta- 
nooga, he returned to his home with it. In the battle of Look- 
out Mountain he acted as a volunteer aid on the staff of Gen- 
eral Grant, and by reason of his knowledge of the topography 
of the surrounding country he was enabled to render valuable 
assistance. General Grant always appreciated his services and 
his singular bravery and devotion to the Union cause, and when 
he became President he was always ready to show Mr. Crutch- 
field, or his constituents, any favor in his power. 

In 1872 Mr. Crutchfield, though not a politician, was put 
forward by the Republican party as a candidate for Con- 
gress, and was elected by about 1200 majority, in a district 
usually electing a Democratic representative. His opponent 
was Judge D. M. Key, afterward successively United States 
Senator, Postmaster General, and United States District Judge, 
and, in the language of Judge Shepherd, "one of the purest, 
best, and ablest men in the country." Mr. Crutchfield served 
his constituents faithfully and honestly for one term of Con- 
gress. Some few years afterward he died on his farm not 


far from Chattanooga, in the State of Georgia, having the 
respect and confidence of all who knew him, of both political 
parties. He died possessed of considerable property. He was 
an eccentric, erratic man, beyond nearly all men of his day. 
He was called the David Crockett of his time. Both he and 
Crockett were natives of East Tennessee, and born in Greene 
County. On one occasion, while he was a member of Congress, 
"at the conclusion of a fervid speech of the spread-eagle variety 
by a member of the opposition, the house was startled by a lusty 
cock's crow from the desk of the East Tennessee original." 
According to all accounts, Mr. Crutchfield was a man of 
courage. He is spoken of by one who knew him well as a man 
of "desperate courage." It is equally manifest that he was an 
upright and truthful, and an honorable and kind-hearted man. 
This is the character given to him by all his Chattanooga 
acquaintances, whether agreeing with or differing from him in 
politics. He was a remarkably generous and noble man in 
his instincts. Many were his acts of helpfulness to the un- 
fortunate Confederates during the war, and after its close. 
He opened his purse freely, and gave his time and exertions 
to relieve their wants. In the language of one of his plain 
neighbors, "He was a man of right thought." He was out- 
spoken and blunt in speech, and no one was left in doubt as to 
his opinions. But while he was rough in manner and speech, 
within there beat a heart that could be touched by every tale of 
pity, of suffering, or want. He was possessed of noble in- 
stincts, which impelled him with irresistible energy in the direc- 
tion of right, justice, and humanity. 


Dickenson a Native of Massachusetts Accumulated Fortune Ardent 
Whig Decided in Stand for Union Arrested and Discharged Wil- 
liams' Family Old and Distinguished Battle of the Horseshoe Oppo- 
sition of John Williams' Father to Jackson John Williams in Legisla- 
ture Fearless Union Man. 

Two other prominent Union men deserve, from their stand- 
ing and influence, more than the mere mention of their names. 
These are Perez Dickenson and John Williams, both of whom 
were citizens of Knoxville. The first, a native of Massa- 
chusetts, came to Tennessee while, perhaps, in his minority. 
By shrewdness, industry, and fair dealing he accumulated a 
good fortune in the mercantile business. He was a man of 
sagacity and clearness of intellect, as well as of large general 
intelligence. Few men have possessed better native ability. 

Before the Civil War Mr. Dickenson was an ardent Whig, 
as were nearly all the leading men of Knoxville. In 
the Presidential race of I860 he was a warm supporter of 
John Bell. When the question of secession came up, im- 
mediately following the Presidential election, without hesi- 
tation he decided what his duty demanded. He unhesi- 
tatingly ranged himself on the side of the Union, and from 
that position nothing could move him. Through all the dark 
days between June, 1861, and September, 1863 the period 
of Confederate ascendency in East Tennessee his heart as 
constantly turned to the Union as the magnet points to the 
pole. There was no mistaking his position. While he, like nearly 
all Union men, was forced into prudent silence during the 
dominance of the Confederacy, no intelligent man on either side 
doubted where he stood. In 1861, or early in 1862, he was 
arrested and taken before Judge West H. Humphreys, pre- 
siding in the Confederate States District Court at Knoxville, 
who released him, there being no evidence against him. 

Mr. Dickenson enjoyed in a pre-eminent degree the confi- 
dence of the people of East Tennessee as an honest, honor- 
able man, and he was known to the leading citizens of every 


county and of nearly every neigliborhood. At home, in Knox- 
ville, where he resided for two-thirds of a century, he was in 
the latter years of his life, in the esteem of the people, easily 
the first citizen. Though the weight of eighty-seven years 
pressed heavily on his once iron constitution, at the time of 
his death, in 1901, his eye was not dim, nor his natural force 
entirely abated. The influence of his example, his words, his 
name and his high position, in 1861, in favor of the Union, 
unquestionably entitle him to be ranked as one of the leaders 
who saved the Union. 

John Williams, too, was prominent, and too active in be- 
half of the Union in 1861 to be omitted from the roll of its 
leaders. Mr. Williams belonged to an old and very dis- 
tinguished family. This distinction arose, not from the 
possession of wealth (though there was a considerable amount 
of that in the famih^), but from splendid endowments and 
noble achievements. It would be tedious to name all the per- 
sons in this family who have filled distinguished positions in 
North Carolina and Tennessee.* 

But to me the best thing about the Williams family was, 
not its honorable lineage, not its ability, not the distinction 
won by so man\" of them through the holding of high offices, 
so faithfully and so worthily filled, but the spotless integrity, 
lofty honor, and unfaltering courage in doing right, manifested 
by them in all positions and conditions of life. John Williams, 
the father of the subject of this sketch, was a lawyer by pro- 
fession. In the war with the Creek Indians, in the celebrated 
battle of the Horse Shoe, he commanded the 39th United States 
Infantry, under General Jackson, and this regiment, under the 
lead of Williams, first scaled the breastworks which decided that 
battle. His conduct on this occasion has always been regarded 
as most heroic.f Subsequently he became United States Sen- 
ator, and served one term. He was afterward appointed Min- 
ister to one of the South American Republics. 

In Tennessee he was the head of the opposition to General 

*Richmond Pearson Hobson, oue of the heroes of Santiago, is descended 
on his mother's side from Colonel Joseph Williams of North Carolina, 
and also from General James White, the founder of Knoxville, being the 
great-great-grandson of each. 

tThomas H. Benton was Lieutenant Colonel of this regiment, and Sam 
Houston an Ensign, or a Lieutenant. 


Jackson, which culminated in the first defeat of that imperious 
man in the presidential election of 1836, when the State cast 
its vote for Hugh Lawson White, the brother-in-law of Williams, 
in opposition to Van Buren, the favorite of Jackson. The 
only man in the State, of courage, ability, and popularity 
sufficient to withstand the power of the great hero of New 
Orleans was Colonel Williams. This he did as long as he lived, 
and in the end successfully. In courage he was the equal of 
Jackson, with none of his objectionable traits, and with some 
noble qualities which the latter never possessed. 

John Williams, the younger, and the son of Colonel John 
Williams, was three or four times honored by an election to the 
lower house of the Legislature of Tennessee, from Knox County. 
In 1861 he was serving in that capacity, when the question of 
the secession of the State came up for consideration in that 
body, during its two extra sessions, and he, with unfaltering 
courage, voted against every proposition looking to that end. 
His vote was recorded with the small minority of brave men 
who, amid the storm and delirium of the hour, voted against 
the ordinance of secession. No man in the State was more out- 
spoken or more bitter in his opposition and denunciation of this 
movement. He was earnest and unequivocal in his course, and 
made no compromise. The whole movement was absolutely 
wicked in his estimation. He renounced it everywhere, never 
concealing or withholding his sentiments. Even after the State 
had voted to secede, and Confederate armies had occupied the 
country, in the presence of soldiers and officers, both publicly 
and privately, he at all times proclaimed himself a Union man. 
No other man in Knoxville dared to do this. There was but 
one other man in East Tennessee, after Brownlow left in March, 
1863, who openly avowed his adhesion to the old government, 
and this man was Thomas D. Arnold, elsewhere described. 
The very audacity of these men seemed to secure inmaunity for 
them. Other men would have been arrested and hurried oif to 
prison, but Mr. Williams was never arrested, though he was 
included in the warrant issued against Mr. Dickenson and my- 
self, December 25, 1861. 

Mr. Williams was not only a brave, stalwart Union man, but 
he was a gentleman of the highest type of the old school frank, 
manly, open, noble. There was no deceit, nothing false in him. 
He was as true as the laws of nature. In consequence of these 


qualities, men could always trust him, and his influence in shap- 
ing and molding the opinions of his neighbors and acquaint- 
ances, in the shifting, changing condition of public opinion in 
1861, was considerable. He was no speaker, but a worker and 
a fine talker, his name lending strength to any cause that he 
espoused. In an eminent degree he possessed the qualities most 
needed in the terrible times of 1861 determination, and a 
courage that knew no retreat. His family has just cause of 
pride in his record as one of the best and truest Union men 
in the South. . 



Born in Hawkins County Educated at Emory and Henry College Takes 
Charge of Whig Register in 1855 Supports John Bell One of Three 
or Four to Oppose Secession Elected to Legislature in 1861 Humor- 
ous Letter on Fall of Nashville Secretary of Knoxville-Greeneville 
Convention Supports General McClellau Opposes Reconstruction 
Measures Superintendent Public Instruction Editorial Work En- 
counter with John Mitchell Controversy with Phelan. 

JoHX M. Fleming was the youngest of the Union leaders of 
East Tennessee. He was a son of the Rev. David Fleming, of 
the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was born in Hawkins 
County, Tennessee, about the year 1833. Pie was educated at 
Emory and Henry College, Virginia, and soon after his gradua- 
tion settled in Knoxville. In 1855 he was invited to take charge 
of the old Knoxville Register, a Whig newspaper that for many 
years had exercised great influence in its party in East Ten- 
nessee. Mr. Fleming was a good scholar, and wielded a facile 
pen, and it soon became evident to the public that a young man 
of more than ordinary ability had made his appearance. From 
the very start he wrote pointed and telling articles. His style 
was chaste, his facts strong, and when he chose to indulge them, 
his wit and humor were excellent, and he soon came to be re- 
garded as a brilliant young editor. Continuing in the editorial 
profession until 1858, he obtained license to practice law, having 
studied under John Baxter. After coming to the bar, he was 
taken into the office of his preceptor as a partner. 

Mr. Fleming, as may be inferred, was a Whig in politics, 
and took some part in the canvass of 1860 in behalf of John 
Bell. In the spring of that year he had attended the Baltimore 
Convention as a delegate, and had cast his vote in favor of that 
distinguished statesman. In the latter part of November, 1861, 
when the spirit of secession first began to manifest itself in 
Knoxville, Mr. Fleming was one of the brave men who helped 
to organize opposition to it, and who openly met and resisted 
the first approaches of disloyalty. In the two public meetings 
which occurred about that time in Knoxville, and in the public 
discussion that took place, he was one of the three or four men 


who opcnlv opposed secession. He helped to defeat it in its 
purpose to gain an ascendency in Knoxville and Knox County. 
Although on account of youth and lack of previous services he 
was less conspicuous than a number of other Union leaders, it 
can be safely affirmed that Fleming's opportune opposition to 
secession in its very beginning, in these two public meetings, was 
in the end as valuable and wide-reaching as were the labors later 
of any one of the Union leaders of higher distinction, except pos- 
sibly three. The check given to secession, and the confidence in- 
spired in the friends of the Union by these early meetings, can 
never be overestimated. Mr. Fleming has never received, and per- 
haps never will, the credit he deserves for his share in them. Dur- 
ing the two canvasses that followed, in February and ^lay, he 
took an active part against the alliance of the State with the 
Southern Confederacy'. He spoke wherever his services were 
in demand. While not a great orator, he was an exceedingly en- 
tertaining and instructive speaker. His information on all public 
questions was full and minute, and he had the faculty of present- 
ing his facts in the most lucid form. His speeches abounded in 
facts and arguments, presented with clearness, and when occasion 
demanded with wit and humor, and but for a little sharpness 
and shrillness of voice, he would have been a very successful 

In 1861, after the State had voted in favor of secession, ]Mr. 
Fleming was elected as a representative to the Legislature from 
Knox County, and served during the ensuing sessions. That he 
was forced by this position and these surroundings apparently to 
support the Southern Confederacy in the Legislature admits 
of no doubt. Yet his Union friends knew perfectly well how 
he was in heart. Indeed, it seems to have been well understood 
in Nashville that he was still loyal to the old Government, for 
while acting in the capacitj^ of representative, he was arrested 
by the Confederate States ^Marshal on a charge of disloyalty 
to the Confederacy. 

It was during this session of the Legislature that ]Mr. Fleming 
wrote his celebrated letter, which placed him in the estimation 
of all who have read it among the best humorists of the country. 
Fort Donelson had fallen, and the Federal Army under General 
Buell was approaching Nashville. Governor Harris, the Legis- 
lature, all the public functionaries of the State, and the seces- 
sion citizens of Nashville were thrown into the wildest panic. 


They were attempting to save themselves by hurried flight. Mr. 
Fleming witnessed all these things, and wrote an account of them, 
which, in some way, got into the newspapers. In point of 
humor, it would do credit to Mark Twain. 

Some time in 1862, or early in 1863, Mr. Fleming left East 
Tennessee and became a refugee in Kentucky. While there he 
wrote a second letter, which was published in the newspapers, 
giving an account of a similar panic which had occurred in 
Knoxville previous to his departure upon the reported approach 
of the Federal Army. This letter also gave further evidence of 
Mr. Fleming's talents for humorous writing. 

He acted in 1861 as the Secretary of the Knoxville-Greene- 
ville Convention, and faithfully reported the proceedings of that 
body, which were put into form and published under his super- 
vision. He was also a member of the Secret Union Executive 
Committee, appointed by the Greeneville Convention. He re- 
mained true to the Union and to the administration of Mr. Lin- 
coln until the spring of 1864, when he loined Nelson, Baxter, and 
other Union leaders in support of General McClellan for the 
Presidency in opposition to Mr. Lincoln. He opposed the ad- 
ministration of William G. Brownlow as Governor, and also 
the Reconstruction measures of the Republican Party. He 
finally became a full-fledged Democrat, remaining so to the 
end of his life. 

In 1871, after the restoration of the Democratic party to 
power in the State, he was appointed State Superintendent of 
Public Instruction by Governor John C. Brown. At one time 
he was also a prominent candidate for the Democratic nomina- 
tion for Governor, and his chances of success seemed fair. He 
probably would have received the nomination, but for certain 
irregularities in his personal habits. At one period, since the 
war, he again returned to his editorial worlc in Knoxville, and 
in this capacity he became known throughout the State as one 
of its most brilliant writers. Unquestionably he was one of the 
most accomplished editors the State has ever possessed. His 
versatility enabled him to employ in his work the most varied 
talents.^ While emphatically peaceable in his disposition, as an 
editor it was unsafe to attack him. In controversy, there was 
but one man in the State at that time who was his superior, and 
that was William G. Brownlow. Mr. Fleming was always wary 
and cautious, and avoided arousing the old lion of the Knox- 


ville Whig. On one or two occasions, he did venture to cross 
the path of Mr. Brownlow, but the latter, with one short pithy 
paragraph, secured silence. A short time previous to the War, 
John Mitchell, the celebrated Irish Patriot, as he was styled, 
in conjunction with William G. Swan, started a newspaper in 
Knoxville, advocating the most extreme Southern views. In some 
way Mr. Fleming and Mr. Mitchell became involved in a con- 
troversy. The wit and ridicule which Fleming bestowed upon 
Mitchell were more than that impulsive Irishman could endure. 
He accordingly assaulted Mr. Fleming on the street, but no 
serious damage resulted to either party. Perhaps a more noted 
case of the power of Mr. Fleming was the controversy which 
occurred at a later day between him and James Phelan, a mem- 
ber of Congress, and a former editor at Memphis, and a late 
historian of Tennessee. Phelan in his history cast serious re- 
flections upon some of the early inhabitants of East Tennessee. 
Fleming took up the gauntlet in behalf of his own people, and 
overwhelmed Phelan with facts and ridicule. The latter became 
exasperated, and in desperation challenged Fleming to mortal 

After the war, at intervals, ]\Ir. Fleming followed the practice 
of his profession. If he had been constant and persistent, his 
efforts would have been crowned with great success. It can- 
not be said that he was ever a great lawyer. His time was so 
divided between journalism, politics, the law, and the super- 
intendency of public instruction, that it is no wonder that he 
did not become eminent in a profession requiring unremitting 
attention. But he certainly possessed a legal mind of a superior 
order. He was capable of high achievem.ents in this direction. 
He had remarkable memory, quick apprehension, nice discrim- 
ination, and the power of profound thought. To win high dis- 
tinction, he lacked only industry, persistence, and high distinct 
purpose, sustained by unswerving determination. Yet Mr. Flem- 
ing, notwithstanding his idle habits, sometimes did achieve 
considerable success when his heart and mind were warmly en- 
listed in a cause. He won justly merited reputation at the 
close of the war by the ability he displayed in the defense of 
some Union soldiers charged with murder, by raising the ques- 
tion, and arguing it with ability, as to the jurisdiction of the 
State Courts in a case of the kind. The case was prosecuted 
from one court to another, both State and Federal, until it 


finally reached the Supreme Court of the United States, where 
Fleming's position was sustained, and consequently the prisoners 
were finally discharged. John Baxter used to say that few 
if any men in the State had such intellect as Fleming. This 
was the opinion, possibly in a modified sense, of all who were 
familiar with his capacity. While he possessed fancy, wit, and 
humor, reason was the dominant quality of his mind. These 
were helps, but they were subordinate to his judgment. Lack- 
ing in assiduity, he was naturally averse to hard labor, and 
could not bring himself down to continuous study. Doubtless 
he felt that he could accompHsh with little study what required 
great labor on the part of ordinary minds. He was fond of 
general reading, and became exceedingly well versed in most 
of the elegant literature of the day, but for the dry details of 
the law he had no taste. He was an amiable, delightful com- 
panion, and enjoyed with great zest the convivialities of social 
life. It followed, therefore, that he had many warm personal 
friends. It must be confessed, however, after all that has been 
or can be said, that he failed of the high destiny for which his 
abilities qualified him. No one has ever questioned that he was 
prodigally endowed by nature with high intellectual gifts. But 
with all his gifts he was deficient in moral force, and could not 
resist temptation, finally becoming a victim of intemperance. 
He had many lovable traits, but alas, he had his failings. 

Mr. Fleming is one of the three men who remain of the 
prominent Union leaders of 1861. It is melancholy to add that 
he is a wreck of his former self, both physically and mentally.* 

*The above was written while Mr. Fleming was still alive. He died 
in 1900. 


Attended Washington College Practiced Law in Newport State Sena- 
tor Difficulty witti Mason A Refugee Secretary of State Candidate 
for U. S. Senate Speecti in Defense of State Administration Origin 
of Term "Carpet Bag." 

Andrew J. Fletcher, born in Carter County, Tennessee, 
June 21, 1820, was descended from Revolutionary stock, his 
grandfather having lost his life in the battle of Brandywine. 
Andrew, the son of John and Leah Fletcher, Avas educated at 
Washington College, and afterward taught school in Elizabeth- 
ton, at the same time studying law with Alfred D. Taylor. 
He was admitted to the bar, practicing his profession a short 
while in Elizabethton, and finally settled in Newport, Cocke 
County. Here he became a successful lawyer, being engaged in 
nearly every important case on the dockets of the courts, and 
extended his practice into some of the adjoining counties. In 
1859, for the sake of better schools for his children, he removed 
to Greeneville. 

While residing at Ne^vport, Mr. Fletcher was induced by the 
Whigs to become the party's candidate for State Senator, for 
the district composed of the Counties of Greene, Cocke, Sevier, 
and Blount, and was elected by a handsome majority. His 
competitor was the celebrated Thomas D. Arnold, an old lawyer 
and experienced politician. The canvass became exceedingly 
bitter and personal. General Arnold was an expert in the use 
of language calculated to stir the blood of an opponent, and 
all his canvasses and he had had many for Congress were 
directly personal. Yet he found in Fletcher, a man who could 
give as well as receive hard blows. The canvass, while not 
distinguished for dignity and high-toned courtesy, was rendered 
famous by its bright encounters, the wit and sarcasm, and the 
biting retorts of two men skilled as mental athletes. Fletcher 
made as Senator considerable reputation as a man of talents. 
One of his speeches attracted much attention, as a specimen of 
argument, research, and wit. He came out of the Legislature 
with a greatly enhanced character as a man of ability. 



Two years after his first race he was again a candidate for 
the Senate in the same district, but was beaten by Lloyd Bullen. 
In 1860 he unfortunately became involved in a difficulty with 
Robert Mason, of Greeneville, in which the latter was killed. 
The trouble grew out of a law suit in which Fletcher was 
counsel. Mason attacked Fletcher and followed it up with great 
violence. Investigating the facts immediately after the oc- 
currence, as counsel for Fletcher, I became convinced that the 
killing was a clear case of self-defense, and the court and the 
prosecuting attorney must have also taken this view, for the 
defendant was never brought to trial. After remaining on the 
docket for a few terms, the case was dismissed. Fletcher was 
not, in the ordinary sense, a fighting man, much less a des- 
perado. He was sober, peaceable, but with courage to defend 
himself when attacked. 

When the Civil War came on, Andrew Fletcher, being a 
Whig, naturally took decided ground in favor of the Union. 
Taking the stump he pleaded for the preservation of the old 
Government, denouncing in no measured terms the insane scheme 
of ambitious men to disrupt it. Wherever heard his speeches 
produced a marked effect. He set men to thinking. He cited 
facts, weighty and momentous, that gave pause to the minds 
of men. His utterances were sharp and pointed, piercing to 
the very marrow of the question. 

When the bitterness of the adherents of the South became so 
great that it was dangerous for pronounced Union men to 
remain at home, in East Tennessee, Fletcher became a refugee, 
and with a large party sought safety in Kentucky. He endured 
the hardships of a long journey through the pathless moun- 
tains, inspired by love of his government. After wandering 
as an exile from place to place, he finally settled in Evansville, 
Ind. By special request of President Lincoln, he made a num- 
ber of speeches for the Union cause in the Northwest. In 
1864 he also made speeches in Indiana and Illinois for Lincoln 
and Johnson. 

When Tennessee was reorganized in 1865, he returned home, 
and was elected Secretary of State, which office he held for 
three years, at the expiration of which time he was re-elected, 
and held the office until the Democrats got control of the State, 
and defeated him in 1870. Mr. Fletcher then purchased a farm 
near Cleveland, and settled down for the practice of his pro- 


fession. Unfortunately, he died in July, 1870, his useful life 
cut short at the age of fifty, in the very meridian of his fine 
mental powers. 

In 1867 Mr. Fletcher was a prominent aspirant for a seat 
in the United States Senate, before Governor Brownlow an- 
nounced himself as a candidate. It is no disparagement to 
his worthy competitors, Maynard, Cooper, and Fletcher, that 
through the overwhelming popularity of Brownlow they were 
all defeated. No man in this State, however worthy, could 
have had the remotest chance of success against him. 

In June, 1867, while Secretary of State, Fletcher made a 
notable speech at Cleveland, Tenn., on the "issues of the can- 
vass" in the State, in reply to one made a month earlier by 
John Baxter. William G. Brownlow was at that time a candi- 
date for re-election as Governor, being the unanimous nomi- 
nee of the Republican party. The dissatisfied spirits of the 
old Republican party, who had joined in the McClellan move- 
ment, and had supported President Johnson in his attempt to 
divide and destroy the party, nominated Emerson Etheridge in 
opposition to Brownlow. Etheridge took the stump and prose- 
cuted one of the ablest and bitterest canvasses ever made in the 
State. He was then forty-seven years of age in the very 
prime of vigorous intellectual manhood. From the Mississippi 
to the Mountains in the East, his burning words of denunciation 
were heard. John Baxter, his inferior in eloquence, but his 
superior in intellectuality and courage, took the stump in 
support of Etheridge, and in an exceedingly malignant speech 
arraigned Brownlow's administration. Judge John S. Brien 
of Nashville, an old Whig leader, also joined in the crusade. 
At no time excepting in 1861 has the State been so stirred by 
angry passion as during this canvass of 1867. Governor 
Brownlow was disabled from speaking by the partial loss of 
voice. It therefore fell to the lot of his Secretary of State, 
Fletcher, to defend the administration, in shaping the policy 
of which he had had much influence. He made but a single 
speech : that was swiUcient. 

The speech of Mr, Fletcher created a sensation throughout 
the State. I read it on its first appearance, and have recently 
reread it. The second reading has confirmed my first opinion 
that it is a complete and masterly vindication of the State 
Government under Governor Brownlow, as the conditions then 


existed. It was bold in utterance, perspicuous in statement, 
skillful in argument, thorough in detail, caustic in condemna- 
tion, and withal, even-tempered, as of one who spoke from a 
consciousness of right, fortified by an irrefutable array of 
facts. It is the best defense of Brownlow's administration ever 
made, and the only one needed. The flood of misstatement and 
falsehood which was pouring in rapid currents over the State was 
dissipated by the clear and lucid statement of facts taken from 
the records. 

Mr. Fletcher was one of the first, if not the very first, in the 
State to denounce the hordes of greedy office-seekers who came 
from the North in the rear of the army in the closing days of 
the War. He was ready to welcome the genuine settler, but 
for the adventurer who came to prey on the people of the 
South he had an undisguised contempt and hatred. In a 
speech in Nashville he had the boldness to use an expression that 
has since become national, in reference to this class of men. 
He said: 

"No one more gladly welcomes the Northern man who comes 
in all sincerity to make a home here, and to become one of our 
people, than I, but for the adventurer and the office-seeker 
who comes among us with one dirty shirt and a pair of dirty 
socks, in an old rusty carpet bag, and before his washing is 
done becomes a candidate for office, I have no welcome." 

This was the origin of the term "carpet bag," and out of it 
grew the well known term "carpet-bag government." 

A. J. Fletcher was an honest and truthful man ; upright in 
all the relations of life. His example and influence were on the 
side of law, order, morality, and religion, and he always stood 
ready to do his duty as a good citizen. His courage, moral and 
physical, was of a high order. There were no concealments, no 
double dealing, but directness in all transactions. His ability 
was much above the average even among men counted clever. 
His quick mind was clear, logical, well balanced, and capable 
of the nicest thought and discrimination. As a lawyer, he 
studied cases thoroughly, mastered them, and was never caught 
unprepared. His adversary always knew that he had to do his 
best to win his cause. He labored under the disadvantage of 
always having lived in little towns, where there were poor 
libraries, and but little stimulus to high endeavor. If he had 
been more favorably situated for development and self culture, 


there can be no doubt of the fact that he would have become a 
distinguished Tennessee lawyer. As a writer, his style, while 
not elegant, was felicitous and lucid. He went in a few words, 
both in speaking and writing, right home to the point. He 
had the faculty, unfortunately, of saying, in a few words, 
sharp and pointed things, sometimes producing laughter, and 
sometimes leaving a sting behind. His sarcasm was bitter, his 
wit enlivening or annoying, according to the object of it. Mr. 
Fletcher was either a hearty, genial, sunshiny friend, or an 
open, defiant enemy. 


Born in Sevier County Appearance Before Judge Alexander Read Law 
at Night Encounter with Foote in 18G1 Contradictory Qualities 
Member of Johnson Convention Career in Congress. 

One of the unique characters of East Tennessee, somewhat 
after the type of David Crockett, William G. Brownlow, and 
Thomas D. Arnold all of the same section was Leonidas C. 
Houk, who was born and reared in Sevier County, the place of 
the nativity of John H. Reagan, now of Texas. Mr. Houk's 
father died when he was a mere boy, leaving him in extreme pov- 
erty to shift for himself. The only education he had was ac- 
quired in a two months' course in an old field schoolhouse, where 
the teacher was but one degree above the boy in scholarship. At 
an early age he learned the cabinetmaker's trade, and worked 
at it a few years. About the time he was grown he became a 
Methodist preacher, but soon abandoned that calling and turned 
to the profession of the law. It may be suspected that the work 
of the ministry was too repressive for his naturally elastic, 
bounding spirits. 

Mr. Houk's introduction to the bench and the bar took place 
about 1853, when he was still a boy. In the Circuit Court at 
Maryville a criminal case was called against someone for shoot- 
ing at a mark within two hundred yards of a public road. A 
bright, good-looking boy stepped forward to answer to the 
charge. Judge Alexander, who was presiding, asked if he had 
counsel. He said no, that he wished to submit. A witness 
was called, who testified to the facts. These showed plainly 
that the offense was wholly inadvertent, committed in ignorance 
of any such law. The Judge fined him in accordance with the 
statute. I was sitting in the bar and had become interested in 
the boy. I arose voluntarily, urging the Court to be merciful, 
suggesting that he was a mere youth, ignorant of the law, and 
would have to pay the fine and costs by hard labor, and that 
it was a case for the exercise of the greatest clemency. The 
Judge, though strict in the enforcement of law, was kind-hearted, 
and concluded, with the consent of W. G. McAdoo, the State's 



Attorney General, to let the boy off with a nominal fine, Mr. 
McAdoo agreeing to remit his fee. By this time the good looks 
of the defendant and his bright replies had made him quite 
a favorite with the bar. This incident perhaps first suggested 
to young Houk the idea of studying law. He more than once 
referred to it in after life, and always in grateful terms. It 
made him my lifelong friend. 

Two years later, as Governor Neill S. Brown, William G. 
Brownlow, Judge John S. Brien, and I were on our way to 
Sevierville to make political speeches, we overtook a boy on 
foot going to the meeting. As we came up he hailed us with 
some jocular remark. We halted, and on approaching, he 
recognized me, and reminded me of the incident in Court at 
Maryville. I had forgotten him, but not the incident. Here 
was the sprightly boy once more, now nearly grown into 
manhood. We took him into our conveyance and carried him 
the balance of the way to town. Governor Brown and Judge 
Brien were quite struck with him, not dreaming, however, that 
he would some day become the leader of his party in the State. 

In 1859, or early in 1860, L. C. Houk, now grown, came into 
my office, and told me he wished to read law. He said he 
had no money with which to purchase law books ; that he 
wished to borrow them from me ; that he intended working dur- 
ing the day and reading during odd hours at night. I gave him 
a book, perhaps Blackstone. From time to time he came 
over on horseback from Clinton, where he then resided, 
distant eighteen miles, to get a new book, taking it back in 
his saddle bags. In a few months he was a full-fledged lawyer 
with his sign hanging out in Clinton. He used to laugh heartily 
about his first case. Shortly after he went to the bar, he had an 
advertisement put in the newspapers, something like this : 
"Special attention given to the collection of debts." It so 
happened that Jesse Ayres of Knox County had a note on him 
for a small amount, say five dollars. He enclosed the note to 
Houk, in a letter, telling him that he sent him for collection 
a note on one L. C. Houk, directing him to collect it and remit 
the proceeds. Promptly came a reply, saying: letter enclosing 
the note on one L. C. Houk had been received, that the gentle- 
man had been seen, and that the note, amounting principal and 
interest to $6.33, had been promptly paid; that the fee for 
collecting was ten dollars, and crediting the account with that 


amount left a balance on fee of $3.67, which Mr. Ayres would 
please remit at his earliest convenience! 

Ayres, as we can well imagine, was thunderstruck at the turn 
things had taken. Of course, this was simply one of Houk's 
characteristic jokes. No man paid his debts more willingly 
than he when he had the money, which was not always the 

Young Houk was bright and witty, at times almost im- 
pertinent in his boldness. He made himself felt and heard 
wherever he went. He was embarrassed in the presence of no 
one. In 1861 the celebrated Henry S. Foote was sent by the 
secession leaders of Nashville into East Tennessee to make 
speeches to convert the Union men to secession. He had been 
until recently a Union man himself, and it was therefore thought 
he would have great influence. Among other places, he went 
to Clinton to speak. That was Houk's peculiar territory, and 
mere youth as he was, he suffered no man to make disunion 
speeches there without an answer. Accordingly he demanded of 
Governor Foote a division of time. Foote was almost breath- 
less with astonishment at the audacity of this boyish-looking 
fellow demanding a division of time with him who had debated 
with Clay, Webster, Benton, Davis, Yancey, and others. But 
being a man of high courtesy, he readily granted the request. 
Foote made his regular speech high-toned, able, and full of 
elegant civility. Houk followed with the confidence and assur- 
ance of a veteran. He knew all the points of the Union side 
perfectly, as well as all the weak places on the other side. With 
daring boldness and sometimes with rudeness of speech, he 
arraigned the secession party, enlivening the debate by happy 
anecdotes, and by sallies of wit aimed at the Ex-Senator and 

As Houk went on with his speech, Foote was filled with 
amazement at the shrewdness, the extent of information, the 
happy hits and the cool impudence of the young village poli- 
tician. Sometimes he would suddenly start, as was his custom 
under great excitement, as if to assault the speaker, and then 
resume his attitude of astonishment. This episode was such 
a surprise to Governor Foote that he could not tell which to 
admire the more, the bold assurance of the young man, or his 
sprightliness. Out of it there sprang a warm friendship be- 
tween the two men. 


I need hardly add that Mr. Houk was an enthusiastic Union 
man in 1861. He made Union speeches in his own, and perhaps 
in some of the adjoining counties. In the Greeneville Conven- 
tion in June, 1863, he was a member of the Committee of thirty- 
one, called the "Business Committee," and as such favored the 
violent and extreme measures proposed. Some time after the 
August election, in 1861, seeing that all was lost at home, he 
quietly crossed the mountains and sought refuge in Kentucky. 
Here he enlisted in the 6th Tennessee Regiment of Infantry, 
of which he was made Colonel. In about two years he resigned 
from the Army. In 1865 he was a member of Andrew Johnson's 
pretended Convention, which assumed to amend the Constitu- 
tion of the State. He was one of the few persons present 
I do not say delegates, for there were no regularly appointed 
delegates there who had the courage to oppose the alteration 
of the Constitution in that irregular and illegal manner. 

After the State was reorganized and restored to its former 
relations with the Federal Union, Mr. Houk was elected 
Judge of the Circuit Court of the circuit embracing the county 
in which he resided. This office he held until about 1870, when 
he resigned, resuming the practice of law. In order to have a 
larger field of professional labor he moved to Knoxville, later 
forming a partnership with Henry R. Gibson. These two 
made a strong firm. In a short time their business became large 
and profitable. Mr. Gibson was already a good lawyer, and 
Judge Houk by hard study rapidly became one. They soon 
became one of the leading firms in East Tennessee. Judge 
Houk developed qualities hitherto not supposed to belong to 
him industry, and the ability of patient and thorough investi- 
gation both of law and facts. He not only could seize and 
understand the most profound legal principles, but it afforded 
him the most sincere pleasure to be engaged in their investi- 
gation. Legal discussions, no matter how abstruse, excited his 
liveliest interest. 

Mr. Houk unquestionably had a legal mind of a high order. 
Had he remained a few years longer at the bar, he would have 
become one of the foremost lawyers of Tennessee. He could 
state a legal proposition with the most exact precision. This 
was the more remarkable when it is recalled that he had 
no education, and had never studied the standard law books, 
except in the most cursory manner. Even when on the bench, 


where he studied little and frolicked a great deal, he sometimes 
wrote opinions in important cases which astonished the pro- 
fession. An able jurist who had made much reputation on 
the Supreme bench, and who did not like Houk, on reading 
one of these opinions, remarked to the author: "It is amazing 
where that man learned his law. He never studies, he never 
reads, he has no education, and yet he writes better opinions 
than we can after studying all our lives, and they are besides 
written in as exact and as good English as we college graduates 

can use." 

The clear, terse, and generally correct language, of both 
Houk's written speeches and of his legal writings, was some- 
thing astonishing, considering his almost total want of education, 
something Andrew Johnson and Judge John Baxter, with all 
their ability, never acquired. 

In 1878, just as Houk was beginning to make for himself 
a reputation as a lawyer, and had begun to accumulate property, 
he was, unfortunately for himself, tempted by favorable circum- 
stances, to enter the arena of politics. The field was open to 
go to Congress, and though contrary to his first inclination, 
as I happen to know,* he finally yielded to the temptation. He 
became a candidate, and was easily elected in the strong Repub- 
lican district of which Knoxville is the center. For seven succes- 
sive terms he was elected, generally with an increased majority. 
In each race he had opposition, sometimes bitter and determined, 
but his hold on the public was such that he could never be de- 
feated. Were he alive to-day, he would still no doubt be in Con- 
gress. But before the commencement of the seventh term, he 
died suddenly in Knoxville, June, 1890, in the sixty-sixth year 

of his age. 

Leonidas C. Houk exhibited qualities that seemed contradic- 
tory. For example, he was a stalwart in politics. His speeches 
and utterances toward the opposite party were often bitter and 
defiant, and always positive, and yet at times he manifested a 
moderation perfectly inconsistent. During the violence and the 
bitterness of the period from 1865 to 1868, he disagreed with 
his party as to two important measures : disfranchisement and 
negro suffrage. He believed that the disfranchisement of the se- 

*Before the question came up for final determination he urged me to 
accept this position, and offered to use all his influence for me, which 
ofiCer was declined. 


cessionists should have been h'mited to those Avho were the active 
leaders in the secession movement, to those who had held office 
under the old government, and to those who accepted office under 
the Confederacy, including officers who served in its armies. 
He believed it was bad policy, as well as harsh and unjust, to 
exclude from the ballot box the thousands of privates in the 
army, and peaceable private citizens who had taken no active 
part in inaugurating the revolution. This was unquestionably 
so. Whether Judge Houlc ever expressed these views publicly, 
I know not, but he certainly entertained them and expressed 
them privately. When the question of enfranchising the colored 
race of the State was first presented for consideration and 
adoption, he openly and publicly opposed it. In a circular 
addressed to the voters of the Second Congressional District, 
in 1867, he arraigned Mr. Maynard, his competitor, because 
he favored colored suffrage. All can now see how level-headed 
Houk was in reference to these policies. 

The conduct of Judge Houk, in 1869, in the race for the 
Governorship between Senter and Stokes, was not so divergent 
as it at first appears. He gave his earnest support to Senter. 
and made speeches in his behalf, when it was well known that 
there existed an agreement, either expressed or implied, that 
the election laws, in reference to those laboring under dis- 
franchisement, were to be disregarded in the approaching elec- 
tion, on the condition that these persons voted for Senter. This 
they generally did. While firm in his opinions, and an un- 
faltering Republican, Houk was personally generous in his 
feelings toward his political enemies. He had not, as stated, 
approved of the wholesale disfranchisement of the secessionists 
in 1865 ; therefore in that respect he was consistent in support- 
ing Senter. But helping openly to overthrow the laws of the 
State presents quite another question. I choose not, at this 
late day, to enter upon its discussion, since those laws were very 
sweeping in their application, and the result reached was what 
had to come soon anyway, and the sooner the better, perhaps. 

Judge Houk was ardent and impetuous in temperament, open, 
and bold in speech. He practiced little concealment of any 
kind. Feeling strongly, in the heat and excitement of debate, 
he naturally expressed himself strongly, even bitterly. But 
withal, he possessed a big, warm heart, and in private life all 
this bittterness entirely disappeared, except against his personal 


enemies. Even toward the latter he was magnanimous, and 
ready to forgive on the first indication of friendship. His 
sympathy for suffering was of the tenderest. Indeed his heart 
in its tender affection softened at all suffering, all sorrow, all 
want. He would borrow from a friend five or ten dollars for 
some immediate need, and give half of it to the first object of 
charity he met on the street. His tender heart could resist no 
appeal. It was the knowledge on the part of the people of 
this generous nature, of this undoubted sympathy with the hard- 
ships of the toiling masses, that gave him a hold on the affec- 
tions of the people without a parallel in our section except 
that of William G. Brownlow. 

Judge Houk seldom made a mistake in politics. He was wise 
in forethought. A prominent, aspiring man from an adjoining 
county once wrote him a very indiscreet letter, proposing some 
kind of a political partnership. The proposition was well 
calculated to produce a sensation if made public. Houk after- 
ward was telling a friend about this episode, when the latter 
asked: "What did you do? Did you answer the letter?" "No," 
replied he, with a cunning smile, "I put nothing on paper. I 
carefully filed the letter, got on my horse and rode to his county 
to talk the matter over !" As long as Judge Houk lived, he 
kept that letter, and held it in terrorem over that man. One 
of his habits, like that of William G. Brownlow, was to pre- 
serve all letters, whether from friend or foe, never knowing 
when a present friend might become an enemy. 

Leonidas C. Houk had great fondness for the humorous side 
of life. This made him a favorite in social circles and on the 
streets. INIen delighted to listen to his ever overflowing good 
humor constantly bubbling up and breaking out in his speeches, 
as well as in private conversation. This was nearly always 
genial and kindly. When he appeared on the streets, he was 
sure to be surrounded by a crowd listening to his cheery, fresh, 
original remarks. These were not mere idle jests, but thoughts 
seasoned and flavored with sparkling humor. With all his flow 
of good feeling, there was mingled a keen wit, sharp and pointed, 
but, like his humor, nearly always good-natured. For years, 
perhaps yet, his bright sayings as a boy were quoted in Sevier, 
Blount, and Anderson counties, where he had resided. Seldom, 
if ever, did any man either at the bar, on the stump, or in 
Congress get the advantage of him in the play of wit, humor. 


or repartee. He rarely used this wit to wound and seldom 
in sarcasm. His nature was too kindly for the infliction of 

No one who knew Judge Houk ever questioned his ability. 
He had a well-rounded intellect, equally strong in every direc- 
tion. He could comprehend almost at a glance the most diffi- 
cult questions. But more than this, he could hold a question 
before his mind until he turned upon it all the concentrated light 
of his reason. His mind was not only logical, it was astute 
and discriminating. In a word, there seemed to be nothing, in 
intellectual effort, that he was not naturally equal to. 

It may be strange for me to state that Judge Houk was 
exceedingly fond of the deeper problems of theology. He 
delighted in discussing these. He understood the leading tenets 
of every denomination in the State. When he had a little 
leisure, wliich seldom happened in the latter part of his life, 
he was fond of reading. He was especially fond of deep 
philosophical, ethical, or religious works. Does this sound 
strange to the reader.'* Let it be remembered that Judge 
Houk was a thinker, an investigator, and was naturally re- 
ligiously inclined. He had the most devout reverence for all 
things sacred. The strength and the breadth of his intellect 
led him to the belief that the stupendous and harmonious 
wonders of creation were not the result of chance, but the work 
of an infinitely wise and omnipotent power an Almighty God! 
At home he was a regular attendant at the Methodist Episcopal 
Church, of which he was a member. 

In his later years, Judge Houk when not engaged in a can- 
vass, or in mingling with his friends, was an earnest worker. 
The amount of work he could do and the rapidity and ease 
with which he threw it off, were astonishing. When on the point 
of opening an important canvass, he would, in a few hours, 
dash off with his own hand, a speech which would be the key- 
note of the campaign, and deliver it nearly exactly as first 
written. He knew in advance what he wanted to say, and in 
his logical mind every thought presented itself in its natural 
order. There was no confusion of ideas, nor obscurity of 

In his own State he was a leader, not a follower in politics. 
For years before his death he was the leading man in the 
Republican party in Tennessee. He generally wrote or largely 


dictated its platforms, and made the opening speech, indicating 
the lines along which the battle was to be fought. His judg- 
ment in regard to the issues to be presented in a canvass 
was almost unerring. He knew what would prove popular and 
what would prove otherwise. He scarcely ever committed an er- 
ror in this regard. Springing from the humble walks of life, it 
would be expected that he would exhibit more or less demagogism 
in his opinions and speeches. On the contrary he was exception- 
ally free from this spirit. He had the independence to think for 
himself, and to avow his opinions openly before the people. 
Where there was likely to be a difference in opinion, he trusted 
to his ability to convert them to his views. 

Judge Houk possessed in the highest possible degree a sensi- 
tive, delicate organism. His feelings and sensibilities were most 
acute. His nervous system responded to the lightest touch, and 
thrilled at the slighest harshness. He was the subject of ex- 
treme exhilaration or of extreme depression. And this, beyond 
a doubt, largely accounts for his failings. A cold, sluggish 
nature is deeply moved neither by passion nor appetite, neither 
by success nor disappointment. Higher natures need something 
to restore or keep alive their exaltation. They crave and must 
have stimulation, either mental or sensual. It thus comes to 
pass that genius is too often allied to great failings. 

Judge Houk had his failings. The world knew them. He 
knew them, admitted them, and lamented them. And "griev- 
ously" he "answered" for them. They were buried with him. 
Let the silence of the grave cover them. 


Born in Massachusetts Graduate of Amherst Professor In East Ten- 
nessee University Defeated for Congress by Churchwell in 1853 
Elector for State at Large in 1856 Elected to Congress in 1857, 1859, 
and 1861 At Disadvantage Among Southerners Went Into Kentucky 
After August Election, 1861 Attorney General of the State Twice 
Elected to Congress in the '60's In 1865 Defeated for IT. S. Senate 
In 1872 Elected to Congress from State at Large In 1874 Defeated 
for Governor by James D. Porter In 1877 Appointed Minister to 
Elected to Congress in the '60's In 1865 Defeated for U. S. Senate 
by Howell E. Jackson in 1881 Ability Oratory Personal Character- 
istics Rank as a Lawyer Early Political Experiences Last Days. 

One of the distinguished Union men of East Tennessee, in 
1861, and in fact the most distinguished after Johnson, Brown- 
low, and Nelson, was Horace Majmard. He was not perhaps 
in ability quite the equal of one, or possibly two of these, and 
yet he was no ordinary man. Nature had been bountiful in 
the bestowal of mental gifts on him. These had been improved 
by all that a finished education and hard study could do. 

Horace Maynard was a graduate of Amherst College. When 
he entered college he put the letter "V" prominently above the 
door of his room. When he became the valedictorian of his 
class the meaning of the mj'^sterious letter was explained. After 
his graduation he located in Knoxville, Tenn., and was for a 
number of years a professor in the East Tennessee University, 
now the University of Tennessee. Among the public or pro- 
fessional men of his day, in Tennessee, he was one of the ripest 
and most polished scholars. Indeed, in broad culture, but few 
college professors anywhere w^ere his superiors. This gave him 
in some respects an immense advantage over his compeers. 

Mr. Maynard was born in Massachusetts. The fact that he 
was born in that State was a drawback to him in his political 
career in the South. I believe he alwa3^s felt that such was the 
case, especially after the fierce sectional strife arose. To this 
feeling may perhaps be attributed, in part, the extreme caution 
which alwaj^s characterized his course and utterances in public 
life. He seemed sensibly to realize that the Southern people 
would not tolerate in a native of Massachusetts the boldness 



of speech that they accepted in a native of the South. Hence his 
words were often marked by a certain hesitation. But, inde- 
pendent of this fact, he was by nature wanting in that open- 
ness and independence which were so conspicuous in Brownlow 
and T. A. R. Nelson. 

Mr. S. S. Prentiss, when he first went to Mississippi, was 
conscious of the disadvantage he labored under as a Northern 
man, and he fought duels as he said in order to secure the 
respect of the people, and to avoid contempt and insults. 

In politics, Mr. Maynard was an old-line Whig before the 
war. In 1853 he was nominated for Congress by the Whig 
party in the Knoxville district. His competitor was William 
M. Churchwell, a man of wealth and of great shrewdness. By 
the use of money and other means not to be commended. Church- 
well succeeded in overcoming a good Whig majority and in 
being elected. Maynard, it must be confessed, was far from 
being popular at that time. In proof of this I give the vote 
in Knox County, his home: 

Maynard, Whig 1760 

Churchwell, Democrat 1210 

Henry, Whig candidate for Governor 2308 

Johnson, Democratic candidate for Governor 787 

In the Presidential canvass of 1856 Maynard was selected 
by his party as one of the electors for the State at large. 
Ignoring the bad treatment he had received in 1853, he mag- 
nanimously took the stump, and canvassed the State with great 
earnestness and ability. This conduct on his part greatly 
endeared him to his party, and gave him a popularity not 
possessed before. In 1857 he was again nominated for Con- 
gress without opposition in his own party, and was elected by 
a small majority. In 1859 and in 1861 he was re-elected, 
no one in his own party opposing him. 

Mr. Maynard's career in Congress during these six years 
was not distinguished by any striking display of ability such 
as he possessed. He was regarded as a man of much more than 
average capacity, but he by no means became a party leader. 
In 1859, during the long contest for Speaker, however, he at 
one time received sixty-five votes for that position, a very high 
compliment. John A. Gilmer of North Carolina, distinguished 


as he was, could command only thirty-six votes. Each of the 
parties, the Democrats, the Republicans, and the Americans, 
had its own candidate. 

From 1860 to the spring of 1861, the great absorbing topic, 
both in Congress and out of it, was the impending crisis on the 
slavery question. He that was the boldest, and the most defiant 
in the utterance of his opinions, whether on the one side or the 
other, was the man who gained the greatest notoriety. 

I have placed jNIr. jNIaynard among the Union leaders in 
1861, and he deserves that position both by reason of his ability 
and his reputation, yet in a true sense he was deficient in some 
of the elements of leadership. A leader in times of revolution 
must have courage, audacity, and enthusiasm, as well as ability. 
Ability Mr. Maynard certainly had, but not the other qualities 
in high degree. While not deficient in a reasonable share of 
physical courage, in that infinitely higher quality which enables 
a man not only to face danger, but to defy public opinion, 
and inspire others with his own great spirit, he was not dis- 
tinguished. Yet I repeat, that I think this was in part due 
to the fact that he always felt the disadvantage among a 
Southern people of having been born and educated in the North. 
When we add to this his natural caution, we can see how it 
operated on his mind. It would be in vain to deny that he had 
warm admirers, but in the later years of his life, after he had 
risen to greater eminence he had a much more devoted personal 
following. ' 'i[|*-^^'^^ 

After ]Mr. Maynard's return from Congress, some time in 
April, 1861, he took the stump and rendered able service in 
behalf of the Union. His speeches were earnest and strong in 
arguments and facts. But it was not arguments that were then 
needed. It was courage enthusiasm leadership. Arguments 
did not hold the timid or the wavering. The agency of the 
revolution was terror. In the wild whirl and frenzy of passion, 
reason lost its way. In times of great danger, "on the perilous 
edge of battle," men needed the example of courage, not polished 
sentences. The contagion of daring, like the contagion of fear, 
quickly spreads from man to man. Many of the men who early 
rushed into the Confederate Army were moved by sudden fear 
the apprehension of some great disaster that was impending 
they knew not what. 

I would not underestimate the services rendered to the Union 


cause by Mr. Maynard. They were unquestionably great. His 
name and high character, as well as his ability, were of the 
highest value. But the opinions of the Union men were already 
fixed long before he returned from Washington, as was shown 
by the February election. When he returned he did not change 
them, but simply, with the assistance of others, helped to hold 
and confirm them. For this he deserves the gratitude of his 
countrymen, especially when so many others were false and 

At the August election in 1861, notwithstanding the State 
had seceded in June, Mr. Maynard was voted for and elected 
a member of the Congress of the United States by the Union 
men. He remained in the State until the day of election. He 
managed on that day to be in Scott County, which lies on 
the border of Kcntuck}^ When he had thus finished his can- 
vass and arranged all his plans, he took his horse, crossed over 
into Kentucky, and went on to Washington at his leisure. Not 
until Burnside had redeemed East Tennessee in September, 
1863, was he permitted to return to his home. At the opening 
of the next Congress he was sworn in as a member of that body, 
not on the certificate of the Governor, but on the certificate of 
the loyal sheriffs of the different counties, who certified that he 
had received a majority of the votes cast. 

When Andrew Johnson was INIilitary Governor of Tennessee, 
Mr. Maynard was appointed by him Attorney General of the 
State. After the State was readmitted into the Union, he was 
again elected a member of Congress, and at the next election he 
was re-elected. 

1865, before the State was recognized by Congress as en- 
titled to representation in that body, INIr. Maynard Avas a candi- 
date for a seat in the United States Senate. He was defeated 
by eight votes by Judge David T. Patterson. At the same 
session Joseph S. Fowler was elected to fill the other seat in 
the Senate. Looking back at these results, at this day, they 
certainly seem most surprising. IMr. Maynard was entitled to 
this position both by reason of ability and services. Neither of 
these men was distinguished for superior ability, though both 
ranked above the average. Neither of them by virtue of services 
had any strong claim on the party. Patterson, like Johnson, 
was an old-line Democrat, and had supported Breckinridge in 
1860. He made no speeches for the Union in 1861 indeed 


he could not make a speech. Neither had Mr. Fowler rendered 
any service that gave him a claim on the State or the party 
for such a high honor. The election of Patterson can be easily 
accounted for; he was the son-in-law of President Johnson. 
It was fortunate for Mr. Johnson that these two men were 
elected Senators, for on the impeachment trial they both voted 
for his acquittal. 

The election of Patterson over Maynard was an error and a 
wrong. True, he was a man of fair ability, and a worthy 
gentleman. He had made a most excellent Circuit Judge, but 
he had not built up the Union party and had no claims upon its 
honors. After a few months in the Senate, he went back to his 
life-long love the Democratic party. Mr. Fowler was a worthy 
man, but he also had done nothing to merit such a distinction. 
Recently from Ohio, he was not identified with Tennessee ex- 
cept for a brief period. Mr. Maynard would have been elected 
but for the influence of Mr. Johnson, and he would have re- 
flected honor upon the State in a much larger measure than 
either of the others. 

In 18T2, a member of Congress had to be elected from the 
State at large in Tennessee. Mr. Maynard was nominated for 
this position by his Republican friends. General B. F. Cheat- 
ham was put in nomination by the Bourbon Democracy, and 
Andrew Johnson became a candidate of his own volition. The 
canvass was an interesting one as well as a remarkable one. 
Cheatham had been a brave and distinguished General in the 
Confederate Army, as well as a gallant Colonel in the Mexican 
War. He was a plain, blunt, honest man, who was always ready 
in war for a fight. He believed that war meant fighting. He was no 
speaker and was of very moderate ability. The three canvassed 
the State together. Johnson, of course, had his own policy to 
defend, and so far as he was concerned, spent his time in defense 
of himself and in attacks on his enemies. Cheatham made short, 
sensible, but gentlemanly speeches. Maynard was fair, honor- 
able, and exceedingly dignified. His polished sentences and 
elegant bearing were in marked contrast with the coarse, strong, 
bitter language and harsh manner of Johnson. In none of his 
previous canvasses had Mr. Maynard made so much reputa- 
tion as a public speaker. He won golden opinions from all 
parties. The contrast between the two men was marked. In 
this canvass oMaynard reached the zenith of his fame and popu- 


larity. It was admitted by all parties that in eloquence and 
dignified bearing he rose far above Johnson. He never ap- 
peared so well. The result was that he added immensely to his 
reputation, while Johnson lost. I need hardly add that with 
a divided Democracy Mr. Maynard was easily elected. In 1874; 
Mr. Ma^^nard was the Republican candidate for Governor 
against James D. Porter. He was defeated, almost as a matter 
of course, in a Democratic State. In 1875 he was appointed 
Minister to Turkey by President Grant. He represented this 
government with dignity at the Court of the Sublime Porte, 
though nothing arose during his official term demanding special 
diplomatic ability. At the end of about five years, D. M. 
Key, the Postmaster General under President "Hayes, was ap- 
pointed United States District Judge for Tennessee, and Mr. 
Maynard was recalled for the purpose of taking the place thus 
made vacant in the cabinet. The duties of this office he dis- 
charged efficiently and faithfully until Mr. Cleveland came into 
power. This closed the public life of Mr. Maynard. In 1881 
he was a candidate for U. S. Senator, and was beaten by 
Howell E. Jackson, after a very close race, the Democrats 
being in a majority. From this time till his death. May 3, 
1882, he spent his time quietly among his old friends in Knox- 
ville. He never seemed so agreeable, so happy, and pleasant 
as after his retirement. As the sunshine of a bright closing 
day settled about him he took more than usual interest in good 
works. Whenever called on he delivered graceful lectures to 
Sunday schools or prayer meetings, seeming to realize that 
the stormy scenes of political life were over, and that the time 
for rest and peace and preparation had come. He delighted in 
going quietly around among his old friends, sitting down and 
having with them long familiar talks. Many people now saw Mr. 
Maynard in a new light, in that of the quiet Christian gentle- 
man, with a well-stored intellect and a heart out of which had been 
taken all traces of bitterness and passion. The night before his 
death, a friend and myseif were with him, at his own house, 
until a late hour, on important business connected with the 
University of Tennessee, of which institution we were all 
trustees. As this gentleman, who was a strong Democrat, and 
I walked home together that night, the wisdom, the deep earnest- 
ness, the utter absence of all prejudice, and the intense desire 
to do what was right, on the part of Mr. Maynard, were 


subjects of remark by both of us. He was then apparently 
in perfect health, with the promise of several years more of 
usefulness. In thirty hours or less after we left him, he passed 
suddenly away from heart failure at the age of sixty-seven 

The community was startled by the unexpected news of his 
death. On the day of his funeral there had never been such a con- 
course of sorrowing people on the streets of Knoxville, except 
on the occasion of the death of Ex-Senator Brownlow, a few 
years earlier. His sudden demise in the full maturity of his 
powers, and in the enjoyment of perfect health, deeply touched 
the public heart. 

The private life of Mr. Maynard was singularly pure and 
free from reproach. I do not recollect ever having heard him 
charged with a single questionable act in point of morals, and 
in all his stormy political life he maintained his consistency 
as an upright member and a ruling elder in the Presbyterian 
Church. In all things he was extremely regardful of the truth. 
His life conformed to his professions. In his dealings he was hon- 
est and just, always rendering to others what was their due, while 
in his public life no temptation could seduce him from the path 
of honor and honesty. The best proof of his absolute integrity 
is found in the fact that he died with only a moderate estate, 
notwithstanding that he had had a large practice as a lawyer 
before he entered public life, and that during all the time he 
Mas in the public service about twenty-five years he lived 
in the simplest manner, and with the strictest economy. 

In ability Mr. Maynard was above the average of even able 
men. His mind was remarkably quick, incisive, and penetrat- 
ing. It was more: it was strong, comprehensive, and brilliant. 
Few men thought more quickly or more clearly. There was no 
flaw, no weakness in his intellect. It was well-rounded, bright, 
broad, and deep. And yet I do not mean to say that he was 
massive intellectually, for he was not. But he certainly had a 
clear, bright mind, of great force and rare power. His head 
was large and decidedly intellectual in outline. Fred Douglass, 
in speaking of him, once said he had a "three-story head." His 
eyes were as black as could be, and wonderfully bright, spark- 
ling like coals of fire. I do not think the world ever saw a 
full manifestation of his mental power. There were certain 
hindrances to this in his nature caution, timidity, modesty, 


some characteristic wliich always restrained him. His great- 
est exhibitions of power were at the bar. 

In oratory Mr. Maynard always ranked high in Tennessee. 
He possessed some of the first qualities of a fine orator. He was 
tall and straight in person, and if he was not graceful, he 
was not ungainly. His voice was uncommonly deep and strong, 
rather musical, and with a wide compass and great power, 
pleasant in all its variations. In imagination he was sufficient- 
ly gifted to adorn his argument with enough rhetoric to relieve 
it from dryness, weaving beautiful threads of gold into his 
web of facts. When he wished he could be almost as effective 
as Rufus Choate, but without the dazzling display of W. T. 
Haskell, of our own State, whose marvelous eloquence will 
never be forgotten by those who heard him. 

Besides person, voice, intellect, and a chaste fancy, Mr. May- 
nard, as I have already stated, had culture of a rare order. 
This gave him the use of the best and choicest language. All 
his words were skillfully chosen, and all his sentences were 
polished and rounded ready for the press. Few men, of little 
or of great renown, spoke such pure, perfect, beautiful English. 
The thought was always good; the language exceedingly 

In addition to these qualities, his mind was stored with 
useful information as well as with elegant learning, and all 
that adds to the graces of oratory. He was a thorough classi- 
cal scholar, with a memory that was never at fault, so he 
could draw at times on his varied and almost boundless re- 

To give point and effect to his arguments, he had at his 
command humor, keen v/it, and a biting sarcasm. It is doubtful, 
however, whether this last quality is not, in public speakers, a 
source of weakness rather than strength. It certainly is, if 
used often. In early life JNIr. Maynard used these gifts, es- 
pecially his sarcasm, a great deal at the bar, and wuth terrible 
effect. Toward the close of his career he seemed to have 
mellowed down very much, and the use of severe or offensive 
language was seldom heard from him. 

I could name several orators in Tennessee who excelled May- 
nard in popular effectiveness, but none of them was his equal 
in pure, lucid, and classical English. Governor James C. Jones 
was a marked illustration of the former class. He was rather 


a shallow man, but by reason of his dashing manner was un- 
questionably one of the greatest popular orators of his day. 
And yet jMr. iNIaynard was no ordinary speaker. He some- 
times rose for a moment into the loftiest strains of brilliant 
oratory. It always seemed to me that he was capable of doing 
so at all times. I think it possible that his taste and his culture, 
acquired in early life by study and in teaching, became a posi- 
tive drawback to him as an extemporaneous speaker. 

As a lawyer Mr. Maynard stood high, his legal ability never 
being questioned. Almost as soon as he was admitted to the 
bar, he was rated by his fellow lawyers as an able member of the 
profession. Pie at once went into a full practice, at least as 
full as the measure of legal business then warranted. In the 
preparation of his cases he spared no labor. When the trial 
came on he was master of his case, fighting with intense earnest- 
ness for his client. In this theater there appeared most con- 
spicuously the learning of the lawyer and the skill and shrewd- 
ness of the advocate. He was wary, vigilant, artful, and able. 

He unquestionably possessed a mind capable of the finest 
analysis and the clearest reasoning. In the argument of his 
cases, whether before the court or a jury, he was strong and 
clear. His addresses to the jury were forcible and shrewd, 
and full of fire and vehemence. Often they were bitter and 
withering. Here he gave full vent to his wit, sarcasm, and 
his irony, frequently displaying a high order of eloquence, and 
often illustrating with happy effect the point in issue by some 
beautiful classical allusion. It was in these extemporaneous 
speeches before juries and courts that Mr. Maynard's highest 
efforts were made. Here, in my opinion, he displayed greater 
ability than he ever did in politics. I always questioned whether 
he did not commit a mistake in quitting the bar. Certainly he 
could have won the highest eminence in this field. His ability 
was sufficient to have won fame for him beyond the limits 
of the State, if an opportunity had presented itself. 

Mr. Maynard came to the bar in the golden era of the pro- 
fession in East Tennessee. John A. McKinne}^ the elder, still 
lingered at the bar with his distinguished ability. Robert J. 
McKinney had just reached the meridian of his well-earned 
fame. Thomas A. R. Nelson, though still young, had nearly 
attained the zenith of his successful career. Gray Garrett, of 
Tazewell, was still noted for his wit, his exact learning, and for 


his incisive logic and power. William H. Sneed was now in 
the full vigor of his prime, and in the exercise of those quick 
and strong faculties which made him so formidable an antago- 
nist. And Thomas C. Lyon, next after Mr. Maynard the most 
cultured man at the bar, was then also in the full possession 
of those splendid powers which made him, in the estimation of 
many, the ablest lawyer in the State. Certainly he was ex- 
celled by few. These were all great lawyers, recognized as 
such throughout the State at that time, and they still hold 
place in the memory of this generation. 

Mr. Maynard in his wide circuit came in contact with all 
these, and notwithstanding the high standard of ability they 
formed, he was able to make a reputation but little inferior, 
and in some respects superior to any one of them. He did this, 
too, in only a few years, for he left the bar to enter Congress 
after only about ten years of practice, and never returned 
to it. His career as a lawyer is indeed remarkable and 

During the first few years of Mr. Maynard's life at the bar 
he was abrupt and unamiable, and often offensive in his manners, 
snapping men up without hesitation. Many were the persons 
he stung and wounded by his biting sarcasm or pungent wit. 
But few men whom I have known were so savage and so bitter 
toward witnesses and the opposite parties in his cases; and 
sometimes his assaults were simply terrible. In his younger 
days his manner toward his fellows was cold and stiff, which 
explains in part his early unpopularity. But once in politics 
he outgrew this habit. In his early days he was in fact a 
typical Massachusetts man, and not a Southerner, in his man- 

Never, perhaps, did an honest man make more enemies than 
he in early life. He had a few friends that were attached to 
him, a few who admired his ability, and only a few. Yet not- 
withstanding all this, his legal practice was large. Said a 
prominent Democrat, the Hon. Peter Staub, Consul to Geneva 
under Mr. Cleveland: "I voted twice for Mr. Maynard. I never 
liked him, but always admired him on account of his talents 
and the purity of his character." 

Time passed on. He began to make Whig speeches. That 
made him friends. It brought him also more in affiliation with 
the people. In 1853, as we have seen, he was nominated for 


Congress, and was badly beaten in a Whig District. Seldom 
have the vials of slander and defamation been more freely and 
unjustly poured out than they were on him on this occasion. He 
took his defeat meekly, complained not, made further sacri- 
fices for his party, and in this way began to grow stronger. 
In 1856 in the face of his recent ill-treatment, he canvassed 
the State for the Whig party. In 1857 he was again nominated 
for Congress, and this time was elected. Many of those who 
disliked him in 1853, through sympathy or from better 
knowledge of him, now supported him. He, too, had learned 
by experience. The "common herd," as he had called the 
plain people, with whom he said in one of his essays while a 
teacher in the University he "desired no fellowship," he at 
length learned to respect, and to treat with the consideration 
they always demand of those who seek their suffrages. By 
this time he had found out that the "few choice spirits" he 
desired as "associates," could not elect a man to a seat in 
Congress. The prejudice created by his manners and by these 
foolish articles, not written seriously perhaps, began to die 
away, but it did not entirely disappear until his last years in 
Congress, or until his triumphant race for that position against 
Andrew Johnson. 

By long dependence on the people Mr. Maynard learned in a 
tolerable manner how to mix with them how to win their per- 
sonal esteem. But there always remained traces of his early 
stiffness and apparent coldness. I cannot say whether he was 
really cold and indifferent or not. I once thought in his 
younger days than he was. In the latter part of his life I 
saw so much that was sunshiny in him that I doubted the 
correctness of my former judgment. He was capable of acts 
of rare kindness, but always in a quiet, unostentatious way. 

Mr. Maynard died in his sixty-eighth year, when he appar- 
ently had many years of usefulness before him. At the time 
of his death he was the most eminent citizen of the State, and 
the leading Republican of the South. He had outlived the preju- 
dice which once existed against him, and had become the idol of 
his party. Travel anywhere through the State, and always a sen- 
timent of deep attachment, or of sincere admiration was found 
to exist for him. At his name, the eyes of the Republicans 
sparkled, and their hearts swelled with pride and enthusiasm ; 
while it called forth from Democrats words of praise for his 


great ability, his many virtues, and the exalted purity of his 
life. There was not, in fact, a black spot, or a serious blemish 
on his character. And as time goes on, I predict that his 
name and his fame will not die out, in this State, but will 
grow brighter. The people will remember with something of 
romantic interest the young New Englander who came among 
them to identify his fortune with theirs, and who, unaided and 
alone, and by his conspicuous integrity, energ}'^, and superior 
abilities, rose to be one of the most honored citizens that ever 
lived in the State. 

Mr. Maynard's life showed that a man could be a successful 
politician without losing his honesty or his religion, or be- 
coming a demagogue. His influence was always healthful; his 
example and teachings helpful. Young men learned from him 
constant lessons of virtue and goodness, and an inspiration to 
an effort after a better and a brighter life. 

All through Mr. INIaynard's active public life, he was the 
object, beyond that of most public men, of malignant abuse 
on the part of his political enemies. Nothing was too bitter 
or too mean to be said of him. During much of his political 
life he lived in an atmosphere of storms and darkness his 
life a veritable tempest. But as time went on, so much that 
was pure, so much that was honest and of good report was 
seen in him, that these clouds of slander and abuse cleared 
away. His own demeanor also had been becoming milder and 
gentler, and his opinions broader and higher, until at last he 
stood for the highest type of a pure and exalted citizen and 
sincere Christian. The contrast between the apparent coldness 
and the storms of his early life, and the gentle warmth and the 
soft calm of his later days, gave perhaps especial emphasis to 
the tranquillity and the sweetness of this last period. 

I remember a total eclipse of the sun which occurred away 
back in the 'seventies. Awe-inspiring darkness gradually crept 
over the earth until it seemed that night had come. After 
awhile the sun came out from its obscuration in its full splendor, 
and again poured its light on the earth. The day was the very 
perfection of softness and beauty; the air balmy and serene. 
Not a leaf stirred. It was like those soft, bewitching, dreamy 
days that are often seen in the winter in California or Southern 
Texas. When evening came on, the sun sank beneath the west- 
ern horizon in a sea of gold. Then, there shot up behind it 


a flood of purple and golden light, that filled all the western 

Thus it was with Mr. Maynard. In his early political life 
he had his eclipse. There was almost total darkness. But 
this passed away and his evening came on ; peaceful, cloud- 
less, beautiful. And as he sank to rest, there was left behind 
the memory of a well-spent day and the light of a serene and 
beautiful sunset. 

This figure comes to my mind from the fact that a son of Horace 
Maynard, Washburn Maynard. then a young naval officer, now a Com- 
mander in the United States Navy, was at my house, which stood on an 
eminence, during this eclipse, making observations, perhaps for the use 
of the government. He has since become famous by reason of his learn- 
ing, but especially because he fired the first shot in the late Spanish- 
American War. 


Exponent of Justice and Goodness Arrested near Athens Provost Mar- 
shal Raised Union Regiment. 

The sketches of the Union leaders of East Tennessee would 
be mcomplete without a notice of the venerable and lamented 
John McGaughey of McMinn County, who was known by 
character all over East Tennessee, and by public men through- 
out the State. He was distinguished wherever he was known 
for purity of life and unstained integrity. In his own county 
his name was connected with every enterprise for the upbuild- 
ing of her people, in moral, intellectual, and material advance- 
ment, and he stood as the highest and foremost exponent of 
all things just and good and worthy. 

Mr. McGaughey was an ardent old-line Whig, a noted type 
of those grand men, of whom there were so many of wealth and 
intelligence in East Tennessee, representing the best thought, 
the highest culture, and the broadest patriotism. When the 
Civil War came on, by education as well as by tradition he 
naturally preferred the glory of a broad nationalism to a nar- 
row and bitter sectionalism based upon undying hatred of the 
North. He was, therefore, an unflinching friend of the Union. 
He was opposed to dividing a country naturally one, united 
by a common glory, a common interest, and by a common 

Tall, grave, and dignified, he was a noted man wherever he 
appeared. Whenever he opened his lips, he spoke words of 
wisdom and truth. Seldom has any community been blessed 
with a better citizen or a nobler model of a man. 

Yet, so bitter was the spirit that inspired the South, or 
rather I would say the baser sort of Southern men (for there 
were examples of mercy and magnanimity among the better 
class even here in East Tennessee, and very many from a 
distance), that a gang of outlaws, in 1863 or 1864, arrested 
this good and harmless man, in or near Athens, in McMinn 
County, and carried him off, inhumanely treating him, and then 
murdered him in the mountains at Hiwassee Gap. This was 


one of the saddest incidents in the Civil War in East Tennessee, 
being only one of hundreds that marked the suffering, the 
cruelties, and, in may instances, the barbarities, that befell 
Union men. I do not either directly or by implication charge 
this crime on the Confederate authorities, but expressly exon- 
erate them from it, for the facts are, as I understand, that 
this inhuman deed was done by a lawless gang of Confederate 
guerrillas ; but the spirit which inspired it, I regret to say, en- 
couraged the bitterness of secession. 

Mr. McGaughey was Provost INIarshal at Athens, with the 
rank of Lieutenant, at the time of his arrest. He was engaged 
in raising a regiment for service in the Federal Army. The 
force which arrested him was under the connnand of a man 
named Graham a thousand strong, it was said from the State 
of Georgia. 

On returning from Athens the force divided, and a part of it 
went to Madisonville, where it arrested Mv. Joseph Devine, 
and took him off into the neighboring mountains, where he 
also was cruelly murdered. Mr. Devine had taken shelter on 
the approach of the enem}^ in the cellar of Dr. Upton's house, 
and finding difficulty in getting him out, he was promised the 
treatment of a prisoner of war if he would surrender. There- 
upon he accepted the terms offered him. He was also a Provost 
^larshal, with the rank of Lieutenant in the Federal Army, 
and was also engaged in recruiting a regiment for the Federal 


College Career Physique Influence with Pupils Elected to Legislature 
in 1841 Re-elected in 1845 Read Law in Interval Quartermaster in 
Mexican War in 1846 Greeneville Spy In 1857 Defeated for Con- 
gress In 18G1 Aggressive for Union In 1805 Appointed to Supreme 
Court of Tennessee Appointed to Court of Claims in 18G8 Influence 
Over Andrew Johnson Personality. 

Sam Milltgan, as he always signed his name, was my col- 
lege mate and lifelong friend. I shall therefore speak of him 
with affectionate regard and possibly with undue partiality. 
He was born in Greene County, of humble but upright parent- 
age, about the year 1814. At the age of sixteen he became a 
schoolteacher. Soon after that time, perhaps about 1834 or 
1835, he entered old Greeneville College, then under the Presi- 
dency of that estimable man and accomplished scholar, Mr. 
Henry Hoss. By what chance the subject of our sketch con- 
ceived the idea of acquiring an education is altogether un- 
knowTi. He lived in a very obscure part of the county, where 
there were at that time only occasional schools. Some unknown 
cause must have fixed his young mind with the ambition of 
becoming something above the conditions then surrounding him. 
The most trivial circumstances often determine the calling and 
the destiny of men.* 

While at this college, Sam jNIilligan pursued his studies with 
assiduous devotion. The tall, pale, intellectual student soon at- 
tracted the attention of the president and of his fellow students. 
It was at once seen that he was no ordinary young man. The 
students were startled one day when the president announced 
that he would not be surprised if young Milligan should some 
day become a member of Congress an honor at that time 
bestowed only on men of worth and ability. The news went 

*I well remember, in my own case, that the accidental possession and 
reading of a small abridged edition of Locke's "On the Human Under- 
standing" while I was in camp as a soldier in the Cherokee Nation, in 
1838, amid the dissipations of camp life, led me to the settled conclusion 
of entering upon a regular college course as soon as I should return home, 
and of studying law, which purpose I unswervingly carried out until I 
had a law license in my pocket in 1846. 



round among the boys, and from that time IMilHgan was re- 
garded by them as an extraordinary person. From time to 
time, he assisted the president in teaching, or taught a short 
term school in the country to raise means to defray his ex- 
penses. I remember two such schools it was my good fortune to 
attend, one a class in arithmetic, another a three months' school 
in the neighborhood. f 

INIr. Milligan was in Greeneville College perhaps three or four 
years, until the College finally went down about 1838, the presi- 
dent, Mr. Hoss, having died a year or two previously. So 
popular was Milligan as a teacher that the three months' school 
above referred to was largely attended, the best young men 
of the country for miles around coming to it on foot and on 
horseback. On the termination of that school in November, 
1838, Mr. Milligan and four or five of his pupils, among whom 
was myself, went to Tusculum College, now Greeneville and 
Tusculum College, a few miles away, to renew their studies 
under Samuel W. Doak, D. D. Here Milligan continued his 
studies until 1841, when the unexampled honor of being nomi- 

fl venture to give an account of the schoolhouse known as George 
Linty's, two miles from Greeneville College, in which the latter school was 
taught. The house was made of hewn logs, instead of round logs, as was 
usual in those dajs. The singular part of the house was its interior 
arrangements. It literally had a hanging chimney in the center of the 
room. By some means long beams were fastened to the .ioists and the 
rafters, extending a few feet above the roof and down to within four or 
five feet of the fireplace. These beams widened out from the roof toward 
the floor like a funnel. Across the beams laths were nailed. Then the 
chimney was stuccoed, not with lime plaster, but with red clay mud. 
This chimney was altogether unique. It was supposed theoretically and 
scientifically that the smoke from the fireplace, which was immediately 
under the chimney, would ascend and escape at its mouth on top, upon 
the principal suction. That theory held good so long as there was no 
disturbing element, but when there was a breeze or current from the 
door, the smoke refused to obey the laws supposed to govern it, and went 
out into the room, entering the eyes, throats, and nostrils of the pupils. 
Then what a scene of sneezing, coughing, and wiping of eyes took place ! 
The seats, made of slabs, or puncheons, were ranged around the fireplace, 
which was Immediately below the chimney, facing inward. There was 
another peculiar feature in this schoolhouse. On three sides of It a log 
was cut out, leaving an opening of about one foot in width. Instead of 
filling this opening with sash and glass, sheets of white writing paper, 
well greased on both sides to facilitate the admission of light, were pasted 
over the opening, and through this aperture the schoolhouse received its 
light. And, after all, it was not such a very bad light. Was there ever 
such a schoolhouse in the interior as this? Now, let it not be supposed 
from this description that this schoolhouse was in the wilderness, for it 
was situated in one of the best neighborhoods in Greene County that had 
been settled sixty years before. 


nated as a candidate for the Legislature while still a student, 
was conferred upon him. Perhaps no such occurrence can be 
found in the history of the colleges of the country. He was 
easily elected, because the Democratic party, which had nomi- 
nated him, was in a decided majority in his district. After 
serving In the Legislature as the colleague of Andrew Johnson, 
he returned to his studies and was graduated in 1843. 

Sam Milligan was in College at least eight or nine years. 
This is partly explained by the fact that he had engaged in 
teaching school, and had lost one year or more in canvassing 
for the Legislature and in attending Its sessions. But he was a 
deliberate man, never in a hurry about anything. His mind 
did not gather knowledge rapidly. He was, however, so 
thorough In all he did and in all he acquired that he never 
lost what he had once gained. 

In 1845 he was re-elected to the Legislature. Li the mean- 
time he had been reading law, nominally in the office of Robert 
J. McKInney. In this year (1845), probably while at Nash- 
ville, he obtained a license to practice law, and after the ad- 
journment of the Legislature returned to Greenevllle, where he 
located. When the Mexican War broke out in 1846 he was 
appointed by President Polk a quartermaster In the army, with 
the rank of Major, and served first at Vera Cruz and after- 
ward at Jalapa. Returning home at the end of the war, he 
resumed his professional life in Greenevllle. In 1849, he 
married Miss Elizabeth Howard, an accomplished young lady 
of an old and excellent family of Greenevllle. Some time after 
this he became the editor of a Democratic newspaper called the 
Greenevllle Spy. Some years later he was appointed by the 
Governor or the Legislature a Commissioner on the part of 
Tennessee, to settle an old dispute as to the boundary line 
between the State of Tennessee and the State of Virginia, which 
duty he efficiently discharged. In the year 1857 he was an 
unsuccessful candidate for Congress In the first district, the 
conditions then existing not being favorable to his election, not- 
withstanding his great popularity. In the intervals, he pursued 
his profession with the greatest industry and with high success, 
considering that the dockets were not then crowded with busi- 
ness. In every case in which he was employed, he was con- 
scientious and unsparing in the use of all honorable means In 
the discharge of his duty to his clients. 


When the war broke out between the States in 1861, with the 
full concurrence of his judgment, he followed the leadership of 
his lifelong friend, Andrew Johnson, and gave a warm and 
earnest support to the cause of the Union. He was appointed 
by the Legislature in 1861 a delegate to the Peace Congress, 
which assembled in Washington, the object of which was, as 
its name implies, to preserve the peace of the country. In the 
preliminary struggles in the State of Tennessee over the ques- 
tion of secession, ]\[r. Milligan exerted all his influence, both 
in private and on the stump, in behalf of the preservation of 
the Union. His ability, his high character, and his great popu- 
larity were potent factors in preserving or creating a loyal 
sentiment in the minds of the people where he resided. 

Mr. Lincoln, soon after his inauguration, appointed ]\Ir. 
Milligan an associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the 
Territory of Nebraska, which office he declined. 

In the election of 1861, Mr. Milligan was elected a delegate 
to the Constitutional Convention proposed by the Legislature, 
but which was negatived by the people in the February election. 
After the time had arrived when it was unsafe for Union men 
to express their sentiments, Mr. Milligan, like most of the other 
leaders, became quiet and ceased to make opposition to the 
Confederate Government. And yet there was never an hour 
during the period intervening between June, 1861, and Sep- 
tember, 1863, when his heart did not turn fondly to the old 
government. In 1865, when the war was drawing to a close and 
Tennessee was virtually redeemed from the domination of the 
Confederate Government, he was appointed one of the Judges 
of the Supreme Court of Tennessee under the newly organized 
State. It should be stated, however, that in the so-called Con- 
stitutional Convention which assembled in Nashville in the 
winter of 1865, Mr. Milligan took a leading part, and largely 
drafted the amendments to the Constitution. He held his posi- 
tion on the Supreme bench until 1868, when, without any 
solicitation on his part, he was appointed by President John- 
son a member of the Court of Claims, at Washington, which 
position he held until his death, April 20, 1874. 

In the beginning of the political career of Andrew Johnson, 
Mr. Milligan was his warm supporter and admirer, and as they 
were associated together afterward in legislative duties, and in 
many a hot political contest, they became warm friends. Finally 


Mr. Milligan became the confidential adviser of INIr. Johnson, 
and this relation continued for twenty or twenty-five years. He 
was undoubtedly during all this time the most intimate friend to 
whom Mr. Johnson gave his confidence. No two men could 
have been more unlike than they were in every element of char- 
acter. And yet Mr. Milligan possessed the very qualities and 
qualifications that Mr. Johnson needed. He was educated, 
trustworthy, and discreet. His judgment was sound, his infor- 
mation extensive, and his fidelity unquestioned. He was con- 
sulted by Mr. Johnson upon all new and grave questions, and 
no doubt he often changed the views and purposes of his great 
leader. He had the frankness and the manliness to speak the 
truth and to give honest advice. Among those who knew them 
well in their own county, it was always understood that either 
Mr. Milligan prepared or revised all the important documents 
coming from Mr. Johnson's pen. It has often been asserted 
that he prepared the first message of President Johnson to Con- 
gress, but from an intimate knowledge of both men I incline to 
the opinion that this is true only in part, and possibly not true 
at all. It is unquestionably true, however, that during the 
long and stormy political career of Mr. Johnson, he leaned 
with confidence upon Mr. Milligan for advice and assistance. 
Johnson had one other confidential friend, mentioned elsewhere, 
John Jones, residing in Greene County, who was sometimes 
taken into their confidential consultations. 

In the discharge of his duties as a lawyer Mr. Milligan was 
faithful and laborious. His cases were always thoroughly 
prepared. His arguments before the courts were clear and 
learned. While he was not so elaborate and forcible in these 
arguments as Mr. Nelson, nor so exact and exhaustive as 
Robert J. McKinney, he was as clear and pointed as either 
of them. He possessed in an eminent degree a legal mind, 
capable of the nicest distinctions, and the clearest apprehen- 
sion of the principles involved in his cases. As a judge he 
was eminently just and impartial, as he saw the law and the 
facts. His opinions have stamped him as an able jurist. 

It is not, however, in the capacity of a politician, a lawyer, 
or a jurist that he presents his highest and most admirable 
traits of character. His public life was more open and more 
dazzling, but it was his splendid personality that gave to him 
his highest attractiveness. As a student, a lawyer, and a private 


citizen, it was the conspicuous virtues of the man that made him 
altogether unlike his fellows. In college he was always the pet 
of his teachers, and the favorite, if not the idol, of his school- 
mates. He was so gentle, so patient, so amiable and so oblig- 
ing that everyone loved him. If the younger scholars needed 
assistance in working an example in arithmetic, or a problem 
in algebra, or help in the construction or translation of a 
sentence in Latin or Greek they went to him. He was kind 
in aiding them, cheerfully stopping from his own studies for 
this purpose. The older scholars found in him a genial com- 
panion, an intelligent adviser, and an example of all that was 
commendable. His superiority was ungrudgingly acknowledged 
without the slightest mixture of jealousy. When we add to 
this his kindliness, his warm, sunshiny disposition, his help- 
fulness, and his unchanging sweet temper, it need not occasion 
surprise that he was such a favorite. During the five or six 
years that I was in college with him, and on the most intimate 
terms, I can recall no occasion when he was angry, or when 
he spoke an unkind word. He certainly possessed human 
passions and human prejudices, but they were kept in perfect 
restraint. Nothing could disturb his ever-present serenity. 

In after life, however high or exalted his position, he ex- 
emplified constantly the same winning, noble qualities that dis- 
tinguished him at school. He was unpretentious in manner and 

Mr. Milligan was not a great orator, but was a very im- 
pressive speaker, earnest, lucid, and persuasive, possessing 
some fancy, which he held in such complete subjection to his 
intellect that it seldom appeared in his speeches. His mind 
was eminently logical and philosophical. He was a thinker. 
His high intellectual head indicated thought, rather than im- 
agination. He was a classical scholar, and Avell read in the 
great works of prose and poetry which add so much to the 
power of a public speaker. He had decided taste for all 
works of beauty and thought, and yet at all times he was 
devoted to his profession, and indulged in these only for recrea- 

In demeanor, Judge ]\Iilligan was grave, sedate, and retiring, 
with a quiet, thoughtful, and contemplative air. His modesty 
and humility were so excessive that he seemed to be always 
shrinking from observation, yet in private there was a strong 


undercurrent of fun and merriment bubbling up in playful 
good humor. In college he took no part in the sports and games 
of the students, yet in private, his ear and heart were open to 
their joys and their griefs, to the tales of their sports and 
their amusements. All sought him, all followed him, all de- 
lighted to be with him. By a sort of magical power, he drew 
all persons to him who came within the influence of this spell. 
Now, what was the secret of this? He was not showy, not 
brilliant, not dazzling, not effusive, not demonstrative. A single 
word will explain it all it was goodness! Tennyson has ex- 
pressed it in these lines : 

"Howe'er it be, it seems to me 

'Tis only noble to be good ; 
Kind hearts are more than coronets, 
And simple faith than Norman blood." 

Sam Milligan's life was one long round of modesty, humility, 
gentleness, and peacefulness. He uttered no harsh words, gave 
no wounds, was guilty of no questionable acts. His conduct 
in all things was upright and noble. He absolutely had no 
enemies. He was a peacemaker, "Blessed are the peacemakers." 
He came out of all his political contests, however heated, with 
the good will, the esteem, and admiration even, of his political 
opponents. He was just and honorable in all things. He might 
have stood up before all the world and said, as Samuel of old 
did to the assembly of Israel: "Whom have I defrauded? 
Whom have I oppressed? Whom have I wronged?" and no 
one could have answered his challenge. Altogether I think he 
was the best man I have ever known he had fewer faults 
and more virtues. He was indeed a beautiful character. Would 
that I could paint his life as a picture, and show it to the 
world, just as he lived it. How pure, how fresh, how dewy 
like a garden of flowers in the early morning. 

"His life was gentle, and the elements 
So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up. 
And say to all the world, 'This was a man ' " 


Born in Virginia Educated at Tusculum Under Doak Two Tears in 
Franiilin, Tenn. State Senator in 1833 Elector for State at Large 
in 1848 Defeated by Harris in 1859 Constantly in Politics Jury 
Lawyer Personal Characteristics. 

Among the prominent Union leaders of East Tennessee in 
1861 was John Netherland, of Hawkins County. Of this re- 
markable set of men, he was by nature, in some respects, per- 
haps, the most remarkable. In person he was more striking than 
any one of them. He was endowed with a native intellect scarcely 
inferior to that of the ablest. He possessed qualities for 
winning popular favor superior to any of his associates, ex- 
cepting one. His personality was captivating. Mr. Nether- 
land was born in Virginia, September 20, 1808, and died in 
Rogersville, Tenn., October 4, 1887. He was educated at 
Tusculum Academy, now Greeneville and Tusculum College, 
under old Dr. Samuel Doak, and read law under Judge Samuel 
Powell. Before he was twenty-one years of age, he obtained a 
law license, and soon thereafter located in the town of Franklin, 
Middle Tennessee, where he remained two years, then return- 
ing to East Tennessee. In 1833 he was a State Senator from 
the First District, and in 1835 represented Sullivan County 
in the Legislature.* In 1836, though quite a young man, he 
was Presidential Elector on the White electoral ticket, and 
cast his vote in the Electoral College for that venerable states- 
man. In the division of parties in the country, in 1835, he 
became an ardent Whig. In 1848, he was elector for the 
State-at-Large on the ticket for General Taylor, and cast his 
vote for him as President. In 1851 he was elected to the 
Legislature for the third time, and served with distinction in 
that body. In 1859 he was selected by the general voice of his 
party throughout the State, as the Whig candidate for Gov- 
ernor against Isham G. Harris, the then Democratic incumbent 
of that office, but was defeated by a considerable majority. His 

*By the Constitution of 1796 a man was eligible to a seat in the Senate 
at the age of twenty-one. 



aspirations were always high. In 1847 he was a candidate 
before the Legislature for United States Senator, but was de- 
feated by the Hon. John Bell, then in the zenith of his power 
and popularity. In 1870 he was a member of the Constitutional 
Convention of the State. 

During all his life John Netherland took a prominent part 
in politics. In every canvass, whether personally an applicant 
for office or not, he was zealous in behalf of the success of his 
party. Because of his great sagacity, his advice and his 
counsel were constantly solicited by the leaders throughout the 
State. His knowledge of men, and his shrewdness as to the 
effect of party measures were so well known, that his opinion had 
great weight. No man in the State had a keener perception 
of what would prove popular and what unpopular in a can- 
vass. He knew the people, their instincts, and their thoughts. 
Even Andrew Johnson could not fathom the popular mind more 
perfectly than he. He possessed a fund of common sense and 
forethought, in this regard scarcely equaled by any of our 
public leaders. 

The strong position which Mr. Netherland won in the coun- 
cils of the State, and in the estimation of its distinguished 
men, and the reputation which he achieved as a lawyer, prove 
that he was no ordinary man. In olden times, in Tennessee, 
only men of real ability and great popularity were selected 
for the higher positions of honor and trust. The very names 
of the Whig leaders in the State, Bell, Jones, Foster, Brown, 
Campbell, Henry, Gentry, Etheridge, Nelson, and Maynard, 
prove that men of mediocrity were not put forward. There 
was such an array of talent that inferior men were not sought 
for the high positions. The selection of Mr. Netherland as 
the Elector for the State at large, in 1848, at the very time 
of the high noon of greatness in the State, proves that he 
was regarded by his party as one of its ablest defenders. And 
his almost unanimous nomination for Governor, in 1859, against 
Governor Isham G. Harris, the most adroit Democratic poli- 
tician, excepting Andrew Johnson, in the State, was an emphatic 
endorsement of his ability. 

His pre-eminence as a jury lawyer was well established. His 
circuit embraced large portions of the first and twelfth judicial 
districts, extending from Sullivan County to Campbell, along 
the northern border of the State, a distance of more than one 


hundred miles. In these circuits, he constantly came in contact 
with the best legal talent in East Tennessee, possibly in the State. 
At every court, and in every important case, he had to encounter 
such lawyers as John A. McKinney, Robert J. McKinney, 
Thomas A. R. Nelson, Thomas D. Arnold, William H. Sneed, 
Horace Maynard, Grey Garrett, and Robert H. Hynds. These 
were all first-class lawyers in some department of the law, and 
some of them in all departments. Thomas A. R. Nelson, for 
illustration, was not only a technical lawyer, but he was also 
a jury lawyer. Yet Mr. Netherland, for more than twenty 
years, held the unquestioned supremacy as a jury lawyer 
throughout the length of his large circuit. Certainly no mean 

Another fact must be taken into consideration. Mr. Nether- 
land's position in this respect was won solely by natural ability. 
He had but little literary culture, and never worked assiduously. 
He knew little of books, either in his profession, in history, 
or in general literature. He was familiar with few books the 
Bible, Shakespeare, Byron, and Burns were his favorites. He 
was not thoroughly posted on the current events of the day. He 
read newspapers, but read them hurriedly and cursorily. Yet 
so retentive was his memory that he had a fair knowledge in 
reference to nearly all passing events. He had but little of the 
philosophy of political economy. From his calling and associa- 
tions, he necessarily knew something about the science of gov- 
erment, though he never gave it much study. His reliance 
at all times was upon his strong common sense, and in this 
he was exceptionally superior. His power and success as a 
jury lawyer were all due to his natural ability. His addresses, 
before juries and on the stump, were plain, simple, and un- 
adorned. There were no flights of imagination, no displays 
of rhetoric. He addressed the minds of men, not their fancy. 
His success lay in the use of his intellect, power of analysis, 
happy illustrations, remarkable clearness of statement, and 
skillful massing of facts. In the knowledge and judgment of 
human nature, of the motives which sway men, of their passions 
and prejudices, he was almost phenomenal. He could play 
upon the passions of jurors as an artist plays upon the strings 
of a violin. Yet he was no demagogue. Never was he accused 
of any thing dishonorable, either in the use of arguments or 
in appeals to juries. Trusting in his ability to win his causes, 


he disdained to resort to little or unworthy tricks. In the 
selection of jurors, he seemed to know Intuitively whether the 
person presented for election or challenge was the kind of 
man he needed in the particular case. He read the countenances 
of men as an open book. He knew everybody in the wide 
region where he practiced, knew their history, their prejudices, 
their peculiarities. Hence he was scarcely ever mistaken in 
his choice. It was Indeed a bad case where he did not win 
a verdict before juries. 

Mr. Netherland was an upright man. While artful and 
shrewd in accomplishing his ends, outwitting those with whom 
he came in contact, it cannot be said that he resorted to 
questionable means. He was Indeed the very prince of good 
fellows genial, sociable, delightful. His fund of anecdotes was 
Inexhaustible, and his manner of telling them Inimitable. He 
delighted in his leisure hours and he was rarely much 
pressed for time In having around him a crowd to whom 
he told Innocent stories, and recounted reminiscences. He 
was a wit and a humorist. Humor bubbled up In him 
like a perennial spring. All his speeches abounded In It, 
yet It was only used to Illustrate weighty facts. In 
repartee and sarcasm he was rarely surpassed. To Illustrate: 
an old lawyer friend between whom and himself there had always 
been a little jealousy, but great Intimacy, were In the habit 
of Indulging their wit upon each other, sometimes in rather 
rough terms. They were both together at court in the presence 
of two or three friends, among them myself, when they began 
to rally each other. Said this friend to the company: "Mr. 
Netherland Is the closest man I have ever known. If he 
were traveling along the highway and came to the forks of 
the road, and one fork led down to perdition, and the other up 
to Paradise, and he had to pay toll of ten cents along the road 
to the Celestial City, he would refuse to pay It, and would 
take the road to the regions below." "Yes," said Mr. Nether- 
land, quick as thought, "If you were already In Paradise In 
Abraham's bosom, and some boon companion were to shake a 
bottle of liquor at you from the bottomless gulf, and say, 'Come 
down and let us take a drink of good old whiskey together,' you 
would say 'Farewell, father Abraham,' and at once start for 
the regions below." This colloquy ended the conversation 
without Ill-feeling on the part of either. 


I have noted that Mr. Netherland would not confine himself 
to hard study. He often did himself injustice by the habit 
of relying upon his natural ability. An illustration of this 
is given by Governor Harris, in accounting for his success 
over Mr. Netherland (the race in 1859). Harris said that 
when he heard that Netherland was to be his competitor, know- 
ing his reputation as a man of ability and his skill as a public 
debater, he felt a little uneasy as to whether he should be able 
successfully to meet him on the stump. He therefore went to 
work, preparing himself thoroughly for the discussion of every 
public question that was likely to arise between them. Harris 
entered the contest, therefore, armed at every point for their 
joint debates. When the canvass opened, it soon became evident 
to everybody that Harris had the advantage over Netherland in 
detailed information upon the issues involved in their discus- 
sions. The result was while in natural ability Netherland was 
the equal of Harris, he did not gain the advantage over him 
that his friends expected, and was not elected Governor. 

And yet, in his old age. Governor Harris told a mutual friend, 
that so fertile were the resources- of Mr. Netherland, that, in 
this canvass, in order to keep upon his feet, he had to be more 
cautious than with any other antagonist he had ever en- 
countered. Netherland could, in fact, turn the most serious 
charge of an opponent, or destroy the force of it, by a shrewd 
answer or by his wit and irresistible humor, and he seldom 
failed to do this. 

In person, Mr. Netherland was tall and slender, being fully 
six feet high. His body was straight, round, very symmetrical 
and graceful. In his younger and better days he dressed in 
faultless manner, which set off his person to advantage. His 
head was large, round, and intellectual in contour. His face 
could hardly be called handsome, and yet it was of such a 
character, so well molded, that he would everywhere impress 
the beholder. The face had something of sternness, and yet, 
he was neither stern nor sour. He was, however, a man of 
determination, and this the face indicated. He could not be 
moved from his purpose when once fixed, by any ordinary 
opposition. Wary and cautious in committing himself in favor 
of new measures, he always weighed carefully all considerations 
and consequences. He never ran off after new theories until 
he fully saw the results that were to follow. Hence he seldom 


committed the errors which politicians so often have to lament. 
He had, however, often to regret the use of his wit and sarcasm. 
He once remarked to me that these talents had been a drawback, 
instead of an advantage in his public life ; that in moments of 
excitement, he had often inflicted wounds which rankled, making 
enemies of those against whom they were directed. This is per- 
haps always the case when these weapons of speech are heed- 
lessly used. 

When the Southern States, in 1860 and 1861, began to 
withdraw from the Union, Mr. Netherland, being an old-time 
Whig of very decided conviction, naturally espoused the cause 
of the Union. It were needless to say that his influence among 
his thousands of friends in the region where he lived was very 
great. He was earnestly for the preservation of the Union, 
and took the stump in its behalf, in his own county. When the 
election of February, 1861, was ordered, and a Constitutional 
Convention was proposed to determine the status of Tennessee 
in the great conflict then pending, Mr. Netherland, by common 
consent was turned to as the ablest representative of the Union 
party to be sent to that Convention. After canvassing the 
county, he was elected by a large majority. But as that Con- 
vention never convened, being defeated by the people at the 
ballot box, in common with all other Union delegates, he never 
took his seat. In the succeeding canvass, upon the straight 
and direct question of separation, or no-separation, Mr. Nether- 
land remained unflinchingly on the side of the Union. His 
standing and ability gave him great weight in holding East 
Tennessee loyal to the government. He deserves therefore to be 
ranked as one of the prominent Union leaders of East Tennessee. 
But as he was not so active as some others in the great fight 
that took place in the spring of 1861, the same honor cannot 
be claimed for him in the success which followed, that right- 
fully belongs to those whose efi'orts covered a wider field. 

Mr. Netherland was a member of the celebrated Knoxville- 
Greeneville Convention. He took no active part in its delibera- 
tions, but singular to say, the only speech in that body, given 
even in brief terms is his. It was wise and patriotic and doubt- 
less made an impression. It was spoken early in the delibera- 
tions ; he earnestly advised moderation and conservatism. In 
the subsequent proceedings Mr. Netherland took no active part. 
But it was evident from his speech that he was opposed to any 


wild, revolutionary measures. Thus he stood firm and deter- 
mined in his opposition to secession to the closing scenes of the 
agitation. Throughout the long months that intervened be- 
tween June, 1861, and September, 1863, Mr. Netherland's 
sympathies were all on the side of the Union. He was, however, 
prudent and conciliatory, and demeaned himself in such a man- 
ner as to escape arrest, or to avoid bringing upon himself any 
serious odium on the part of the authorities of the Southern 
Confederacy. In the Spring of 1864, when a majority of the 
Union leaders of East Tennessee conceived it to be their duty 
to separate from the Administration of Mr. Lincoln, and unite 
in a conservative course in favor of the election of General 
McClellan, he united with them. From that time until his death 
he co-operated with and supported the Democratic party. The 
little faults of Mr. Netherland were so overshadowed by the 
multitude of his good qualities, that no friend would venture 
for a moment to suggest them. So striking were his qualities, 
so lovable was he personally, so superior in point of intellect, 
that long after most of his contemporaries shall have been for- 
gotten, his name will be an endeared household word among 
those who remember him as he was in his prime, and his wit, 
his sayings, and his kindly deeds will descend as pleasant 
recollections. What man who once knew John Netherland in- 
timatelj'^, that warm, genial, sunshiny nature, can ever for- 
get him ! 


His Phenomenal Rise at the Bar An Old-line Whig Nelson and Haynes 
Canvass of 1858 First Speech in Congress, December, 1859 Nelson 
and Johnson in Tennessee, Spring of 1861 Re-elected to U. S. Con- 
gress Captured and Taken to Richmond Letter Published on Return 
to His Home Attitude Toward Lincoln's Proclamation of Emancipa- 
tion Attitude in 1872. 

Among the great Union leaders of East Tennessee in 1861 
Thomas A. R. Nelson was not the least. In all that was manly 
and brave, he had no superior. If courage, ability, and honor 
are qualities that make a leader in dangerous times, then this 
man was born to lead. 

Mr. Nelson, a native of Roane County, East Tennessee, ob- 
tained his education at the University at Knoxville. When 
quite young he obtained a license to practice law. Very soon 
after this he moved to Jonesboro, in the eastern part of the 
State, where he settled to practice his profession. The bar of 
that circuit was at that time an unusually able one, perhaps 
equal to any, if not one of the strongest in the State. It embraced 
two lawyers, John A. McKinney and Robert J. McKinney, who 
had no superiors in the State. Besides these, there were Seth 
J. W. Lucky, afterward both Circuit Judge and Chancellor; 
Jacob Peck, a former Judge of the Supreme Court ; Alfred Taj^- 
lor, John Kennedy, General Thomas D. Arnold, John Nether- 
land, John Brabson, and others. 

Soon after the settlement of Mr. Nelson in Jonesboro, he was 
appointed prosecuting attorney for the circuit embracing that 
town. As such, he had constantly to measure his strength 
against that of the able men I have just named. They soon 
found that it required all their ability to meet the strong, brave 
young man who had so suddenly risen up among them. He 
underwent no long probation at the bar, as most young men 
had to do in that circuit, but leaped at once into a full practice, 
taking his place by the side of the older lawyers. In nearly 
fifty years of observation I have seen no parallel to his early 

There was much, however, in Mr. Nelson that seemed to ex- 


plain his phenomenal rise at the bar. He possessed fine 
natural talents. These had been polished and strengthened by 
education, and by most diligent study. He had a splendid con- 
stitution, and could endure almost incredible labor. In his 
profession he knew no rest, no relaxation, no cessation from 
work. In the preparation of his cases, every authority bear- 
ing on the points at issue was examined and full notes were 
made of it. He had a strong, deep, commanding voice, which 
at once arrested attention. But above all, he was the most 
ambitious of men. To excel, to deserve success, rather than to 
gain a mere empty triumph, spurred him to almost super- 
human efforts. But all this toil, all this boundless ambition was 
regulated and controlled by the keenest and the highest sense 
of honor and right and the most sacred regard for truth. I 
doubt if any man during his whole life for a moment questioned 
either his veracity or his honor. He possessed one other quality, 
without which there would have been a weak place in his charac- 
ter, and this was an undaunted courage that knew no fear. This 
courage was so conspicuous that it was never questioned. 

With all these qualities there were united frankness, openness, 
directness, generosity, sympathy, and magnanimity, and rarely 
has any man possessed these in a higher degree. It can at once 
be seen that a man endowed with such attributes would soon 
impress himself favorably on a brave people like those of East 
Tennessee. Soon he was regarded as the very impersonation 
of all that was brave and manly. And so it came to pass that 
men never dreamed of anything little or mean or unworthy in 
connection with the name of T. A. R. Nelson. 

All this is high praise, but it falls short of justice to this 
remarkable man. There was in him a combination of high 
qualities such as is seldom seen united in any single individual. 
His defects were small in comparison with his splendid charac- 
teristics. It may be safely said that no man in the State ever 
commanded the confidence of the people more unreservedly and 
more universally. Even his political enemies, in times of high 
excitement, never doubted his honesty and his good faith, and 
but few of them personally disliked him. Though the most 
positive of men, and the boldest and severest in the denunciation 
of wrong, he made few enemies. So thoroughly did he impress 
men with the idea that he spoke alone from honest convictions, 
that utterances which would have given the deepest offense if 


spoken by others, gave none coming from him. He was tolerant 
of the opinions of others, and his own manly and frank words 
were alwaj's received in good part. 

Mr. Nelson was an old-line Whig. In the exciting canvasses 
of 1840 and 1844 he took an active part, and established a high 
reputation as a debater and orator. In 1850 Senator Bell 
procured for Mr. Nelson, from President Fillmore, the appoint- 
ment of INIinistcr to China. But as the acceptance of this office, 
high and honorable as it was, involved the sacrifice of a large 
practice, and as the salary was only $6,000 a year, he promptly 
declined its acceptance. In 1851 General William B. Campbell, 
the Whig candidate for Governor, became ill, in the midst of 
the joint canvass of himself and of his competitor. Governor 
Trousdale, and Mr. Nelson was selected to take the place of 
General Campbell on the stump. In this position, with charac- 
teristic self-denial, he canvassed a large part of the State with 
marked ability. Campbell was elected, and with him a Whig 
Legislature, thus securing for the party a United States Sen- 
ator. Mr. Nelson became a candidate for this office, and was 
beaten by Ex-Governor James C. Jones, after a long and some- 
what bitter contest. Jones had made himself famous by his 
celebrated contests with and triumphs over James K. Polk for 
Governor of the State in 1841 and 1843. In 1859 he was 
elected to Congress from the first district, after an animated 
and noted canvass with Landon C. Haynes. This is one of the 
memorable canvasses of Tennessee. IMr. Haynes had the repu- 
tation of being one of the finest Democratic orators in the State. 
He was a fluent speaker, and possessed all the arts of a skilled 
politician. His voice was remarkably musical ; his manner 
pleasing and his fancy exuberant. A few years before he had 
run against Andrew Johnson for Congress, and, though beaten, 
he was the most perfect match Johnson had perhaps ever met. 
Haynes was an adept in the very mode of speaking that his 
great rival had always used so successfully. 

The discussions between Nelson and Haynes were able and 
high toned. Indeed, no man would have ventured to violate the 
rules of gentlemanly propriety in a canvass, or a debate, with 
T. A. R. Nelson. He was so fair and honorable himself that 
he universally secured the respect of and honorable treatment 
from his competitors. Great crowds were attracted to the meet- 
ings of these two able men, and followed them from point to 


point. The partisans of each claimed the victory. In argu- 
ment and the marshaling of facts, Mr. Nelson was the superior ; 
in mere declamation, perhaps Mr. Haynes had the advantage. 
The district being Whig in sentiment, the former was elected. 
He took his seat in Congress on the 5th of December, 1859. 
Two days afterward, while the election of speaker was pending, 
he made his debut in that body, and at once won national 
fame. In his speech he gave utterance to the most devoted at- 
tachment to the Federal Union. It was received with bound- 
less enthusiasm. During its delivery he was interrupted almost 
constantly by questions from Southern Democrats, and always 
with discomfiture to the questioners. IVIr. Garnett of Virginia, 
and Mr. Lamar of Mississippi, had made hot, fiery Southern 
speeches. When Mr. Nelson arose, his voice at once arrested 
the attention of the House. He proceeded to discuss the politi- 
cal situation with great moderation and fairness, but with per- 
fect candor and independence. As he advanced he warmed up, 
and began to utter with great energy sentiments in favor of 
the preservation of the Union. Finally he burst forth in a 
magnificent appeal for our glorious united countr}'. It was 
such an overflow of eloquence as schoolbo^^s delight to declaim. 
The applause in the galleries, and finally on the floor, became 

When ]\Ir. Nelson resumed his seat, Roger A. Pryor, the 
former celebrated editor of Virginia, rose to reply. He was 
the Hotspur of the House, and a man of ability. His speech 
was in that arrogant style then peculiar to Southern "Fire- 
eaters." He evidently did not know and had not heard of 
Mr. Nelson. No one knowing him would have ventured to 
indulge in an insulting manner toward him. In one of his first 
sentences he spoke of his "indignation" at the sentiments just 
uttered by Nelson. Pryor's speech throughout was in keeping 
with the manner and tone so common at the time in the South. 
Among other things he criticised Nelson because he had eulo- 
gized the Union, but had said nothing in defense of the Consti- 
tution. In his rejoinder Mr. Nelson was exceedingly happy 
on this point. He said: 

"If I mistake not, it is the common sentiment of the seces- 
sionists of the South, that they talk about the Constitution, 
but say nothing about the Union. When I talk about the 
Union, what do I talk about? I talk about that thing which is 


the result of the American Constitution." (Loud applause 
upon the floor and in the galleries). "I speak of the larger 
idea ; when I say I am in favor of the Union, that carries every- 
thing along with it; and it carries everything else with it that 
any patriot in this land should desire to support." 

Mr. Pryor used some expressions in the course of his speech 
Avhich Mr. Nelson construed as a threat. When the latter com- 
menced his rejoiner, he said "that in anything I have said, or 
may say, I am competent to protect myself against any assault, 
cither in the House, or out of it." 

A line or two further on he added : "I have no apprehension 
either from the person or the arguments of the gentleman, if 
anything he has said can be dignified by the name of argument." 

Those who have seen T. A. R. Nelson in a passion can 
imagine with what a lofty and undaunted tone of defiance he 
uttered these words. 

This rejoinder to Pryor was nearly as long as the original 
speech, and was even more pointed. 

Thus, on his third day in Congress Nelson became famous. 
His speech was the sensation of the session. Perhaps not more 
than two or three speeches in the last forty years had produced 
such a stir, and not one by a new member. The newspapers 
everywhere praised it. And yet it was not specially a great 
speech. It was the occasion, the spirit, and its manner that 
made it great. 

The Baltimore Patriot headed its notice as follows : 


In another column we give the Katioual InteUigencer's brief report of 
this most extraordinary speech. It fell like a thunderbolt on the House. 
. . . Mr. Garnett of Virginia, it seems, led off in a set disunion speech. 
He raved and threatened and stormed, and went on like someone .lust 
out of Ledlam. It was followed by Mr. Lamar of Mississippi in pretty 
much the same strain. 

When these Locofocos had given vent to their passion. Mr. Nelson, one 
of the noble little band of twenty-three Americans in the House, arose. 
He is slightly lame, we are informed, and this is his first appearance in 
a deliberative body. He had scarcely raised his voice before it began to 
ring through the hall in a way that silenced all talking. Every eye was 
turned upon him. The galleries were crowded to excess. 

Turning from them (the disunion sj)eakei-s) he appealed to the friends 
of the Union on that floor, and called on them to rise in their majesty 
and rebuke the rank treason that was now daring to raise its sacrilegious 
hand against the existence of our blessed Union. At this point he 
launched forth in vindication of the Union, and with such effect and 


power that the galleries and the very House itself gave way to the most 
immoderate applause. , . . 

Mr. Pryor, the new member from the Petersburgh Distrift, arose in 
reply to Mr. Nelson. He. too, began with an attempt at domineering, and 
after vaporing for a while sat down. 

Mr. Nelson returned to the charge, and said he was no duelist, but was 
ready to defend himself in that House or out of it. Poor Pryor. in a 
little while, found himself utterly prostrated. This time the galleries 
and the House got almost beside themselves, and yielded up to the influ- 
ence of their feelings in the applause of this wonderful speech with a 
perfet^t abandonment. The effect of the speech upon the House, says our 
informant, was almost dissolving. , . . 

We cannot i-efrain from thanking :Mr. Nelson for thus keeping down 
the arena with the flag of the Union in his hand and unfolding it over 
the heads of the disuniouists. 

The Honorable Jerc Clemens, editor of the jMemphis Enquirer, 
and ex-United States Senator from Alabama, writing to his 
paper from Washington, December 15, 1859, said: 

I but repeat what is on the lips of every man in this city when I say 
that no member of either branch of Congress has won so much renowii 
as Mr. Nelson. 

The Louisville Courier, then a Democratic paper, said of 
Mr. Nelson: 

The passage between Mr. Pryor. the young member from Virginia, and 
Mr. Nelson of Tennessee was a little sharper than either bargained for. 
The dose administered was decidedly unpalatable. Experience is a severe 
physician. We find comfort, however, in the thought that its severity 
tends only to keep people "from waking up the wrong passenger." Nelson 
was waked up through mistake. If it be agreeable to him, he will be 
allowed to slumber through the present Congress. It is hardly probable 
that anyone will venture to arouse him. 

The Louisville Courier was correct. No man ever dared to 
arouse Nelson after that memorable day. That was the onlv 
time he ever served in Congress. In 1861 he was re-elected, but 
as will be more fully explained hereafter, he failed to reach 
Washington to take his seat. 

Those who knew jNIr. Nelson well can readily realize with 
what overwhelming power of voice, passion, argument, and elo- 
quence he crushed ]Mr. Pryor. In his first sentence almost, 
Pr^^or stirred the deep spirit within him, by speaking of his 
"indignation" and by the undertone of superiority which he 
manifested. Pr3'or aroused in the very outset all the latent 
powers of that remarkable man, who, under excitement, became 
a raging lion. Ordinarily Nelson was gentle and amiable, but 
under provocation, he became a storm, a tempest. 


During the Presidential canvass of 1860 Mr, Nelson sup- 
ported Bell and Everett. He made many able speeches in be- 
half of the Union. But it was during the canvass of the spring 
of 1861, while the question of secession was still pending in 
Tennessee, that the ability and matchless courage of Mr. Nelson 
shone more conspicuously than at any period of his life. Sel- 
dom did any public man display higher courage, and rarely 
greater ability. The times were perilous and startling beyond 
anything in our history. His life was in daily peril. From 
the day he arrived at home, from Washington, in March, to the 
close of the canvass in June, he was on the stump, arousing the 
people to the dangers that threatened the country. He can- 
vassed his own district, the first, thoroughly, and then came to 
the second, going over it county by county, extending his labors 
even into the third district. Everywhere he was greeted by 
vast crowds of people. 

During the latter part of the canvass he and IMr. Johnson 
had joint appointments and they traveled and spoke together. 
Seldom has there been witnessed such courage, power, and elo- 
quence as were daily exhibited by these two able men. Mr. 
Johnson, for once in his life, ceased to be a partisan, and be- 
came a statesman. Setting aside the ways of his previous life, 
he rose into the dignity of a broad, bold, great man, full of 
earnestness and words of wisdom. Never did he appear so 
much of a man ! The appalling dangers which surrounded the 
country seemed to rid him of all narrowness and make him 
for the time a patriot. 

But while the people flocked to hear these orators. Nelson 
was their favorite. They listened with admiration, and even 
with enthusiasm, to the words of Johnson, because he gave ex- 
pression to their sentiments, but they turned to T. A. R. Nelson 
as their hero. He commanded their confidence more fully per- 
haps than any of the great leaders. Brownlow had their love ; 
while Johnson had neither the love, nor the full confidence, of 
a majority of the Union people. 

The explanation of these statements, which may seem strange 
to people unfamiliar with the facts, is plain and simple. Mr. 
Johnson was a Democrat, while a majority of the loyal people 
of East Tennessee were Whigs, These Whigs had always hated 
Johnson. Even now they could not fully forgive him and looked 
upon him with more or less suspicion. They regarded him as 


a cold, haughty, selfish man. While the common people of his 
party clung to him with tenacity and admiration, because he 
was the ablest defender of their opinions in the State, he had 
but few warm friends who were attached to him personally. 

As to Mr. Nelson, his life had been so pure, his conduct so 
lofty and free from selfishness and baseness, that he was uni- 
versally respected and admired as one of the noblest of men. 
It is true he had led a remarkably busy professional life until 
the last two years. He had never resorted to the arts of mere 
politicians to gain popularity. He did what was right, and 
uttered what he believed, and only that, whether it made or lost 
friends. He was always, and on all occasions, a noble, con- 
scientious, brave man. These qualities secured for him almost 
universal admiration. 

In another chapter I have given a full account of Mr. Nelson's 
part in the Knoxville-Greeneville Convention. Both his ability 
and his courage were conspicuous in that Convention. I, how- 
ever, think that the Union men of East Tennessee have always 
had cause for thankfulness that the policy he advocated did 
not prevail. It would inevitably have plunged our section into 
civil war, short lived, no doubt, but destructive and terrible in 
its results to the Union people. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the State had voted on the 
7th of June in favor of "separation," elections were held in 
all the counties of East Tennessee in the following August for 
members of Congress and of the Legislature. Mr. Nelson was 
a candidate in the first district, and was of course re-elected. 
Soon after the election, he, in company with one of his sons, 
and one or two guides, set out on horseback from Jonesboro, 
for Kentucky. He had gone as far as Lee County, in South- 
west Virginia, when he was suddenly confronted by a company 
of Confederate homeguards who had been sent out to intercept 
him. He was arrested and at once sent to Cumberland Gap, 
and thence to Richmond. On his way to Richmond, at Abing- 
don, Va., he was joined by John Baxter, who, on hearing of the 
arrest of his friend, at once volunteered to go to his assistance. 
On their way to Richmond they were joined by several members 
of the Confederate Congress. All of these treated Mr. Nelson 
with great consideration. On his arrival at Richmond he was 
not placed in close confinement, but put on his parole of honor. 

Mr. Nelson was so conspicuous for ability and high character 


that it at once became an object with his former friends at 
Richmond to win him over to their cause. It was well known 
to them that threats, intimidation, or force would be utterly 
unavailing. All the power of the Southern Confederacy would 
not have made him yield one iota. This was well known. In- 
stead, therefore, of treating him as a felon and a traitor, he 
became the object of the most assiduous and delicate attentions. 
Flattery and kind consideration would do what force and ill 
treatment could never do. Leading men paid him court. Dur- 
ing his stay there he "was visited by various members of Con- 
gress and other public men connected with the Southern Con- 
federacy." He was finally persuaded that he had misappre- 
hended the object of the Confederates in sending armies into 
East Tennessee. At length he was induced by flattery or legiti- 
mate arguments, to address a letter to President Davis dated 
August 12, 1861. In this letter, after expressing his sincere 
desire "to preserve the peace and quiet of East Tennessee," he 
says, among other things : 

"I ask to be discharged from a vexatious prosecution, that I 
ma}' return home peacefully, to follow my private interests and 
pursuits, assuring your Excellency that I will not, either 
directly or indirectly, by counsel, advice, or action, encourage, 
aid, or assist the United States Government to invade, or attain 
success in the present struggle with the Confederate States, nor 
will I counsel, or advise others to thwart or cripple the Con- 
federate States in the pending contest with the L^nited States, 
nor will I do so by my own acts. 

"In view of the increased majority in the election which has 
just taken place in Tennessee, I shall feel it my duty, as a 
citizen of the State, to submit to her late action, and shall re- 
ligiously abstain from any further words or acts of condem- 
nation, or opposition, to her government." 

To this letter Mr. Davis replied on the 13th of August, 
reminding Mr. Nelson that he had "made promise" that he 
would "as a citizen of Tennessee submit to her late action, and 
religiously abstain from any further words or acts of condem- 
nation whatever, or opposition to her government." He goes on 
further to inform Mr. Nelson that he had ordered his discharge 
from custody. 

This correspondence was published by Mr. Nelson after his 


return to lii.s home, in a letter addressed to "the People of East 
Tennessee," dated August 17, 1861. In this letter he said, with 
characteristic frankness and boldness : 

"I shall offer no plea of duress ; because neither the Southern 
Confederacy, nor any other earthly power, could have compelled 
me to make an agreement which my judgment and conscience 
did not approve in the situation in which I was placed." 

Further he said : "While I did not promise allegiance nor 
active support to the Southern Confederacy, and will not advise 
you to assume any obligations contrary to your convictions of 
duty, I feel perfectly free to say that the failure of the Gov- 
ernment of the United States for four long months to sustain 
us in our position, its apparent inability to do so since the 
battle of Manassas, within any reasonable time, the deliberate 
action of our State in the August election, the assurance of 
public men that no test oaths or drafting measures will be 
adopted or required ; the mutual hatred that has grown up be- 
tween the antagonistic sections of the Union, and the recent 
confiscation laws which have either been adopted or proposed 
on both sides, as well as other causes, have painfully impressed 
my own mind with the belief that unless some wondrous and 
improbable change is effected, our beloved Union is gone for- 
ever, and it is our duty and policy to submit to a result which, 
however we may deplore it, seems to be inevitable. 

"Aware that my advice as well as my motives may be liable to 
misconstruction, I would still most respectfully recommend to 
my friends the propriety of abstaining from all further opposi- 
tion or resistance to the Confederate authorities, or the action 
of our own State. * * *" 

Although Mr. Nelson had enjoyed in a larger degree the con- 
fidence of the Union people of East Tennessee than any other 
leader, and though this letter was intended to reconcile them 
to the new government, there is no evidence that it eft'ected 
a change in a single mind. The loyal men remained as they 
were before, stubbornly, but silently, defiant and bitter. They 
had heard his bitter denunciation of secession on the stump ; 
they had heard him read his terrible arraignment of it in "The 
Declaration of Grievances" in the Greeneville Convention, they 
had heard him urge them to arm in defense of their constitu- 
tional rights, and to resist, if necessary, even to the shedding of 


blood, and they saw, in their plain mental vision, no greater 
reason for co-operation with the Confederates in August than 
they had seen in June. 

Yet I would not censure Mr. Nelson. He was a pure, brave, 
honest man. From his great courage, no imputation of fear 
can possibly be made against him. Perhaps most men, under 
similar circumstances, would have acted as he did. And yet 
I cannot but regard this act as an error. He cannot, however, 
be held responsible for it. No doubt he placed his honor in the 
keeping of his friends, and they led him into this position. 

An incident is said to have occurred at Richmond which showed 
the high honor of Mr. Nelson. He was urged by two, and 
perhaps more, of his warm personal friends, to take his seat 
as a member of the Confederate Congress, by virtue of his elec- 
tion in August to the United States Congress. This he most 
positively declined to do. John JNI. Fleming, at that time, and 
for a number of years afterward, the law partner of Mr. John 
Baxter, the counsel and friend of Mr. Nelson, is my authority 
for this statement. On the return of Baxter from Richmond, 
he told Fleming that he and Governor, now Senator, Vance, of 
North Carolina, tried to induce Mr. Nelson to do as I have 
stated above. Mr. Nelson could not have done this without 
criticism on his conduct. 

On his return to his home and after publishing his letter, 
Mr. Nelson, in compliance with his promise to Mr. Davis, re- 
mained quiet until September, 1863, after General Burnside 
had entered and occupied East Tennessee. He then made his 
appearance in Knoxville, where he afterward remained. No one 
who heard him talk doubted his loyalty at this time. During 
his retirement he seems to have had revived within his bosom 
all of his old love for the Union, and his hatred of the Con- 
federacy. About the time of the entrance of the Federal Army 
there appeared in a small printed volume two political poems, 
written by him, entitled respectively "Secession" and "East 
Tennessee," with copious notes. Both the poems and the notes 
were exceedingly caustic and bitter. The notes were in the 
scorching style of Brownlow. The following is Note 8, taken 
from Mr. Nelson's poem. It is copied to show how bitter he was 
in 1863: 

The Conscript Law was passed to keep the Southern army together. 
Thousands who had volunteered to serve twelve months were forced into 


the three years' service. In executing the law, in East Tennessee, Union 
men and women were whipped, and the latter sometimes hanged, to make 
them tell where the conscripts were secreted. Many were shot, and noth- 
ing was more common than to bring them tied and handcuffed into the 
little towns. At Knoxville conscripts were whipped, compelled to wear 
the ball and chain, and, in some instances, hanged for desertion. . . . 

The following Is Note 11: 

Poor old Virginia ! Land of politics and pride and victim of traitors ! 
The Cotton States were too smart for her, and transferred the war to her 
sacred soil. She rushed into it without cause, and her fields are desolate, 
her bosom a graveyard ! She has nothing left but the Resolutions of "98." 

From the time the Federal Army became permanently settled 
in East Tennessee, ]\Ir. Nelson engaged actively in the practice 
of his profession. The proclamation of emancipation by INIr. 
Lincoln gave offense to him. Plis mind was conservative in its 
constitution, and filled with reverence for existing forms. He 
could not see how, under the exercise of the powers of Com- 
mander in Chief of the Armies, in the time of war, the authority 
could be found to emancipate the slaves of those in rebellion 
against the government. He denied the right and the authority. 
Once started in the course of opposition, he soon found other 
points of objection, until finally he became anti-Republican in 
politics. After the death of Mr. Lincoln, when the quarrel 
arose between Congress and Mr. Johnson as to the plan of Re- 
construction, jMr. Nelson most naturally took sides with his old 
friend. And when impeachment proceedings were instituted 
against the President, the latter at once turned to his distin- 
guished friend as one of his counsel. No doubt he sought INIr. 
Nelson on account of his legal abilit}'^, but also because, since 
the dark days of 1861, he had been his personal as well as his 
political friend. In this hour of trouble no doubt Mr. Johnson 
wished to have near him a trusted friend, in whose honor and 
fidelity he could fully rely and trust his inner thoughts. It 
was a great honor and distinction to be called upon to defend 
a President of the United States before the august tribunal 
of the Senate. 

In 1870, when the Democratic party gained the ascendency 
in Tennessee, Mr. Nelson was nominated and elected one of the 
six Judges of the Supreme Court, or Court of Appeals. While 
on the bench he delivered in the case of Smith vs. Brazelton, 
reported in 1st Heiskell, his celebrated and learned opinion in 


which it was held, contrary to former decisions of the State, 
that the Southern Confederacy was a de facto government. 

Reluctant as many of the Republicans were to accept as 
correct the doctrines of this opinion (which was but a reaffirm- 
ance of the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States) 
it is so fully sustained by authority now that it will hardly 
be called in question hereafter. It must be confessed that the 
war waged by the Confederate States was more than a mere in- 
surrection. It was a great uprising of one section of the Union 
against the other section, with a "boundary marked by lines 
of bayonets which could be crossed only by force ; south of this 
line it was enemies' territory, because it was held in possession 
by a hostile and belligerent power." 

Judge S. T. Logan, who was for some years after the war 
a partner of Mr. Nelson, and was at one time Judge of the Cir- 
cuit Court of Knox County, tells a humorous story in reference 
to this decision. Soon after it was delivered Mr. Nelson asked 
him what the people were saying about it. "They are saying 
a great deal," he answered. "Among other things they say 
that Jeff Davis, after four years of fighting, with all his armies, 
was unable to establish the Southern Confederacy^ but that you 
with a few bold lines of your pen have succeeded in setting it 
up." j\Ir. Nelson was not much pleased with this pleasantry. 

After serving on the Supreme Bench for eighteen months, 
he voluntarily resigned, and returned to the practice of his pro- 
fession in Knoxville. Why he resigned was never certainly 
known. It was given out that the salary was not sufficient 
for the support of his large family, which was probably true. 
Privately it was intimated that two members of the court had 
offered indignities to him in their consultations, which he would 
not submit to, and yet which he could not resent in a becoming 
manner without a public scandal, and a reproach upon the 
highest judicial tribunal of the State. He therefore preferred 
to resign. Whatever may have been the reason, it can be safely 
affirmed that he was influenced by that high sense of duty 
which controlled his whole life. 

In 1872 Mr. Nelson seems to have lost some of his love for 
his late associates. He had partially "come to himself," as 
appears by a call signed by him and Mr. John Baxter, and 
others, for a convention to meet in Cincinnati to organize a 


new party. Whether this Convention ever met, or what it did, 
if it did meet, I have thought it of sufficient importance to hunt 
up. Not very long after this, Mr. Baxter, after wandering 
a longtime, came back to the old fold, where he remained through 
the remainder of his life. ]Mr. Nelson no doubt would ultimately 
have done tlie same thing, if he had lived longer. 

For nearly forty years the friendship between T. A. R. 
Nelson and William G. Brownlow was warm and intimate. Dur- 
ing a large part of this time they were neighbors, first in Jones- 
boro, and afterward in Knoxville. Until 1864? they belonged 
to the same political party. There was never any serious 
breach in their intimate relations. In 18-lT this friendship was 
strained for a short time, over a religious controversy then 
existiiip; between the Rev. Dr. Frederick A. Ross and Mr. Brown- 
low, as to Methodism and Calvinism. A correspondence took 
place between Brownlow and Nelson, in which each expressed 
himself with frankness, but with praiseworthy moderation, after 
which the difficulty and the threatened coldness passed away. 
No two men understood each other better than these two, and 
each knew the strength of the other, and the consequences in- 
volved in a quarrel. Each knew the ability and the high mettle 
of the other, and therefore naturally dreaded an encounter. Be- 
sides there was no real cause for a quarrel. 

In 1849 Mr. Brownlow, in advocating the nomination of Mr. 
Nelson for Governor, said: 

"Mr. Nelson was mainly instrumental in getting us to take 
charge of the Elizabethton Whig ten j^ears ago, which he 
knows was reluctantly done by us at the time. He has been 
our friend when a friend Avas needed when we were surrounded 
by mobs, and pursued by assassins by day and by night and 
such friendship we are not the man to forget nor lightly esteem." 

While Mr. Brownlow was in the Senate an incident occurred, 
which showed the reliance of Mr. Nelson upon the years of 
friendship. The son of Mr. Nelson had unfortunately gotten 
into a position where it was necessary for him to give a bail 
bond for a large sum. Mr. Nelson wrote a note to Senator 
Brownlow asking him to sign this bond, saying that he no 
doubt could get a number of men to sign it, but he preferred 
asking his old friends. This was at a time when they differed 
widely in politics. Scarcely had Mr. Brownlow received this 


note before he hurried off and was on his way to sign the bond. 

There is something touching, and pathetic in these strong, 
determined men, so long intimate and tender friends, at last 
diverging and separating in their political courses, but con- 
tinuing fi'iends to the last, ever ready, as in the days of their 
vigorous manhood, to do for each other acts of kindness. Such 
was the brave Nelson and such the ever-faithful and kind Brown- 

The statement that Mr. Nelson possessed a high order of 
intellect deserves some explanation. He unquestionably had a 
strong mind, but he was so honest that it made him slow and 
cautious in his mental operations. He arrived at conclusions on 
important questions only after the most careful reflection. On 
new questions he would express no opinion until he had looked 
into them most carefully and thoroughly. But in his investiga- 
tion he overlooked no important point. When his mind reached 
its conclusions, it rested on them in perfect confidence and 
security. In his arguments as a lawyer before the courts and 
juries he was elaborate and diffuse. He overlooked no im- 
portant point in his cases. 

It is almost useless to add after what I have said as to his 
characteristics, that in his intercourse with his professional 
brethren, with his clients, and the bench, he was a model of 
fairness, courtesy, and noble bearing. I believe that he was 
never even suspected of a dishonorable act during his profes- 
sional career, much less guilty of one. His enemies even would 
have entrusted their lives their all to his honor and his 

In August, 1873, T. A. R. Nelson died at his home in Knox- 
ville, of cholera, in the sixty-first year of his age. When 
stricken down he was in the full possession of all his mental 
and physical powers, and had the reasonable assurance of many 
years of usefulness and activity. Thus passed away a man, 
the like of whom, we shall not, in all probability, see soon 
again. Time had apparently somewhat softened and mellowed 
his fiery spirit. The vaulting ambition which once filled, but 
never marred, his soul, seemed to have been somewhat subdued, 
and he appeared only anxious to discharge his duty as a citizen 
and a Christian. He had for many years been an active and 
earnest member of the Presbyterian Church. At the time of his 


death he was an active worlcer in the Sabbath school of the 
Second Presbyterian Church of Knoxvllle, of which he was a 
member. He and Mr. Maynard were members of the same 
Church, and like IMr. Maynard, one of his last acts was to 
deliver an able address before the Church on the Bible. Both 
of these great men spent their last days in good works, as if 
prescient of the coming end. 

DeWITT c. senter. 

Active in Influence for Undivided Country Fatlier Prominent Speaker 
of Senate and Governor Later Years Passed in Retirement. 

DeWitt C. Senter of Grainger County deserves honorable 
mention for the part he bore in the great political contest of 
1861. Previous to that time he had become somewhat promi- 
nent as a young member of the celebrated Legislature, elected 
in August, 1859, which by the passage of the ordinance of 
secession of May, 1861, assumed to vote Tennessee out of the 
Union. Amid the wild excitement of Civil War, Mr. Senter, 
with unflinching courage, stood with the little band of Spartan 
heroes who voted "no" on that fatal measure. At home, too, 
in his own county, his voice and active influence were earnestly 
given in behalf of an undivided country. It was to local 
leaders like Butler, Brown, Staples, Houk, Senter, and others, 
who worked so earnestly and bravely in their respective counties 
in the M^nter and spring of 1861 that the great Union victories 
in East Tennessee were due in a degree not generally recognized. 
They worked with earnest determination among their neigh- 
bors and friends, where they had the greatest influence, with 
telling effect. Never was there a greater mistake made than to 
assume that a few great leaders alone won the marvelous Union 
victories in East Tennessee. This honor belongs, though in 
greatly unequal degrees, to a great number of persons, some of 
them distinguished throughout the land, and some entirely un- 
known to fame beyond the limits of the State, and, in some 
cases, beyond their own counties. But for the exertions of local 
leaders, led by a few prominent men, Johnson, Nelson, and 
^Maynard would have found the battle lost when they returned 
from Washington in the spring of 1861. 

DeWitt C. Senter was a son of William T. Senter, who died 
some time before the Civil War, The elder Senter was a 
Methodist minister of considerable celebrity from 1830, or 
earlier, to 1850. He was a member of the Constitutional Con- 
vention of 1834. In the political canvass of 1840, like Gov- 
ernor James C. Jones, he suddenly sprang into great notoriety 


by his ability as a stump speaker. Wherever he spoke he 
aroused the wildest enthusiasm. He had a spicy, incisive, thrill- 
ing kind of eloquence precisely adapted to the hot temper and 
bitter violence of that abnormal period of political fermentation. 
lie was, in fact, singularly pointed, caustic, and effective in 
speaking. In some respects he was superior to James C. Jones 
in a political discussion. Woe to the man who fell into his hands 
in 1840. He had no mercy on a political opponent. He 
would launch at him a torrent of wit, argument, and denuncia- 
tion, in rapid speech and thrilling tones, that was apt to over- 
whelm him. At a great mass meeting at Brushy Creek, in 
Washington County, in October, 1840, I heard him almost an- 
nihilate a certain politician who had the temerity to demand 
a hearing and to appear on the stump. The celebrated Vir- 
ginia-South Carolina orator, William C. Preston, who was pres- 
ent, was greatly interested in Senter's wild eloquence. He 
hung upon his words with intense delight. 

In 1843 William T. Senter was elected to Congress as a 
Whig from the Second District. But except in the heat of a 
canvass he was of a phlegmatic temperament, and therefore 
he made no especial reputation as a debater in that body. He 
needed opposition to kindle the fire of his genius. 

When Tennessee was reorganized in 1865 DeWitt C. Senter 
was again elected to the Legislature. In 1867 he became a 
member of the "Senate and was made its Speaker. When 
William G. Brownlow resigned as Governor in February, 1869, 
in order to take his seat in the United States Senate, Mr. Senter 
became Governor of the State by virtue of the Constitution. 
At the approaching election he was naturally a candidate be- 
fore the people for the office he then held. William B. Stokes, 
who had served with some reputation in the Union army as 
Colonel of a Tennessee Regiment, became a candidate also. 
The nominating convention split after disgraceful scenes of 
passion, and both candidates were separately nominated by their 
respective friends. The excitement throughout the State be- 
came great and surpassingly bitter. A joint canvass between 
the two candidates followed, distinguished for its personalities 
and want of dignity and propriety. The administration of 
Governor Senter had not been sufficiently fortunate to escape 
criticism. A majority perhaps of the Union men ranged them- 
selves on tlic side of Colonel Stokes. From the first Governor 


Senter began to pander to the feelings and prejudices of the 
late secessionists. Before the close of the canvass he openly 
declared in favor of their enfranchisement. The election laws 
of the State, restricting the elective franchise, were openly 
disregarded and violated by Senter's friends, and those lately 
laboring under the disability of disfranchisement went to the 
poles and voted as freely as the Union men. Senter was 
elected by a large majority, receiving the entire vote of those 
lately in arms against the government. A Democratic Legis- 
lature was also elected. Thus the State, through the open 
violation of the law on the part of Governor Senter, passed 
back into the hands of those who had carried it into secession 
in 1861. A Constitutional Convention was speedily called, and 
every vestige of the unfriendly legislation of 1865-1869 was 
erased from the statute book. Governor Senter gave the late 
secessionists the opportunity they desired at the ballot box, by 
openly disregarding the election laws, and it would have been 
amazingly strange if they had not joyfully accepted it. 

At the end of the term of Governor Senter the Democratic 
party came into power in the State by an immense majority. 
He retired to private life on a farm near Morristown, from 
which he never emerged, though possibly not exceeding thirty- 
seven or thirty-eight years of age. The Democratic party had 
no further use for him, and the Republicans did not forgive him 
for his course in 1869. He recently departed this life on his 
farm. After his retirement he never took any active part in 
politics, though I believe he still claimed to be a Republican. 

His administration has never been a source of pride to the 
people of the State. Hungry and rapacious men swarmed 
around him in search of spoils. The public service was lowered 
and corrupted. But the Democratic party has been blind and 
silent as to its faults, because to Senter they owed their en- 
franchisement, and their restoration to power in the State. He 
was mainly elected by Democrats and became on this account 
their Governor. 

Governor Senter was unquestionably a man of excellent 
natural ability. If he had been a student, and had remained in 
public life long enough for the full maturity of his fine powers, 
he might have become a somewhat remarkable man. He was 
rather a handsome, striking-looking person. His voice, in the 


glow and fervor of debate, like his father's, was peculiarly 
thrilling. Like his father, also, when aroused, he was animated, 
pointed, and aggressive, but I hardly think he was so caustic, so 
incisive. While in many respects he was much like his father, he 
was never the latter's equal. On the whole, Governor Scnter had 
that in him which might have been developed into more than 
ordinary power. 


Early Struggles Clerk of Circuit Court Happy Marriage A Demo- 
crat Delegate to Knoxville Convention Daring Operation Led His 
Regiment at Fishing Creek In Battle at Murfreesboro Hot-headed 
A. L. Spears, His Son, a Brave Officer in Union Army a Lawyer. 

General James G. Spears was born in Bledsoe County, Ten- 
nessee, in 1816, and died at Braden's Knob in the same county, 
July 22, 1869. From his infancy his road in life seemed rough 
and hard. He was the eldest of five children, and the burden 
of supporting the family rested on his shoulders, his father 
having lost the bulk of his estate in speculation. It is the same 
old story told of Lincoln and Johnson and Garfield, and of 
many other great men, and being daily repeated in actual life 
by ambitious, brave boys of aspiration, of toil, disappoint- 
ment, struggles with poverty, and finally of success achieved. 
As remarked by his faithful wife, "It seemed as if it was his 
misfortune always to get hold of the rough end of everything, 
and he viewed everything in that light that if it was not a 
hard road to travel it was not worth going." This was the 
key to his mind courage, persistence, ambition. Every ob- 
stacle on his way must be swept aside. Success is certain with 
a man of such a will. 

After young Spears became of age he acquired a meager 
education by his own efforts. He was fond of reading and 
embraced every opportunity to gain knowledge. After leaving 
school he studied law, and located at Pikeville, Tenn. In 1848 
he was elected Clerk of the Circuit Court and served two terms 
in that capacity. After the expiration of his terms as Clerk, 
he resumed his profession as a lawyer. He must have had con- 
siderable aptitude for making and saving money, for about 
1851 he bought a farm near Pikeville, built a house on it and 
moved to it, and put his colored people there to cultivate it 
and take care of his fine stock, of which he was very fond. In 
1849 he married Miss Adeline K. Brown, daughter of William 
L. Brown of Bledsoe County, who still survives her husband, 
loved and respected for her own virtues, as well as honored 


as the relict of a man in many respects of no ordinary mold. 
This marriage proved to be a happy one. Mr. Spears spoke 
of his wife with great tenderness, and often said that "if he 
wanted to marry a dozen times he would court the same woman 
every time." His children consisted of five sons and one 
daughter. They were A. L. Spears of Jasper, N. B. Spears of 
Pell City, Ala., J. Brown Spears of Pikeville, W. D. Spears 
of Jasper, James G. Spears, Jr., and Mrs. James Robertson of 
Sequachee City. All are still living, except Colonel A. L. 
Spears, who died in 1900. 

General Spears was in politics a Democrat. In 1860 he 
supported Stephen A. Douglas against John C. Breckinridge, 
the regular Democratic nominee for President in Tennessee 
the disunion candidate of the South. Mr. Lincoln was elected, 
and Mr. Spears was willing to abide by his election rather 
than have a disruption of the Government. He was a delegate 
to the Knoxville Convention in May, 1861, and afterward to the 
more important meeting of that body in Greeneville in June. 
He was a member of the Business Committee, consisting of 
thirty-one members, to which were referred all important resolu- 

There was no member of these bodies who was more bitter 
and extreme in his opinion, not even Colonal William Clift. 
He therefore favored the violent measures proposed by a dis- 
tinguished member of that body, which were at first unani- 
mously reported for adoption by the Committee. He returned 
home not entirely satisfied with the pacific policy finally adopted 
by the Greeneville convention. 

After returning home, like nine-tenths of the Union men, it 
was not his desire nor purpose to take up arms against the 
Southern Confederacy, but to remain at home a quiet spectator 
of the great strife. But he was not permitted to do this. Learn- 
ing that a warrant for his arrest for disloyalty to the South had 
been issued against him, some time in the early fall of 1861, 
he, in company with Colonel D. C. Trewhitt and others, secretly 
left their homes, and passed through the mountains into Ken- 
tucky the land of refuge for fleeing, persecuted loyalists of 
East Tennessee. Here he raised a regiment among the refugees 
and became its Colonel. 

While at Cumberland Gap he undertook a bold operation, 
such as his daring spirit delighted in. Leaving the Gap, he 


marched to the North side of the mountain, and crossing Log 
Mountain, he turned wcstwardly, and pushed on through the 
mountains to Big Creek Gap, distant by this indirect route some 
forty or more miles from his starting point; then he pushed 
on to Wallace's Cross Roads, distant twenty-odd miles farther, 
and eighteen miles from Knoxville. Here he sui'prised a Con- 
federate force, and scattered it in confusion, killing, wounding, 
and capturing sixty-five men. He returned by the same route 
to Cumberland Gap without the loss of a man. 

It Is impossible to follow Colonel Spears with details In his 
various marches and battles of the next three years. It can 
only be briefly mentioned that he led his regiment in the battle 
of IMIll Spring, or Fishing Creek, and by his bravery con- 
tributed to the first decisive battle on the part of the Federals 
in the War. Soon after this event he was made Brigadier 
General of Volunteers, In recognition of his bravery. He was 
with General George W. Morgan when Cumberland Gap was 
captured, and had a conspicuous part in the skillful maneuvers 
by which It was accomplished. He was also with him when the 
latter was forced to abandon Cumberland Gap, In the fall of 
1862, to avoid capture by the superior forces of General E. 
KIrby Smith at the time he and General Bragg jointly Invaded 
Kentucky. General Spears helped to conduct the celebrated re- 
treat from Cumberland Gap, through northeastern Kentucky to 
the Ohio River, during which the Union forces were constantly 
harassed by the enemy in front, In the rear and on the flanks, 
and subjected to extreme want of water and food, a single drink 
sometimes costing five dollars. 

General Spears had an honorable part In the battle of IMur- 
freesboro, and also In that of Chattanooga, besides participating 
In many skirmishes. Wherever he was he bore himself bravely. 
When President Lincoln Issued his emancipation proclamation, 
he denounced It as Illegal and unauthorized. He was repre- 
sented as saying, at that time, a great many insubordinate 
things, but I will let his good wife, tell the tale and the result 
In her own language: "He thought the Government could be 
preserved without altering the Constitution. He went into the 
war to support and uphold the old constitution, and he was not 
the man to go against his principles. He would stand by them, 
let every other man take his own course. Through the jealousy 
of some of his officers his sentiments were reported to the Presi- 


dent, and charges were preferred against him, which caused 
Mr. Lincohi to order an investigation, which led to a dismissal 
from the army." 

This was an unfortunate ending of the honorable military 
career of General Spears, which every true friend of his regrets. 
But there was nothing in it positively disgraceful to him. He 
had not shown cowardice in the face of the enemy; he had not 
betrayed his country. He was brave in battle, but hot-headed, 
impulsive, and obstinate in what he thought was right. His 
violent temper and courage in the expressions of his views carried 
him too far, and as an officer his conduct became insubordina- 
tion, which under the Articles of War could not be tolerated. 
He could have resigned, but this his proud, defiant spirit would 
not allow him to do in order to escape the consequences of his 
acts. Thus he showed himself to be brave to desperation in 
the very extremit}^ of his fortunes. 

No man ever doubted the courage of General Spears. In 
addition he was manly and honorable, while the career he ran 
shows that he possessed remarkably strong qualities. He was 
the first volunteer officer from Tennessee who was made a 
Brigadier General. This was early in 1862, and only a few 
months after he had entered the service. Even General Joseph 
A. Cooper, who finally won the first place as a distinguished 
officer among Tennesseeans, did not receive a Brigadier's com- 
mission until the summer of 1864, nearly three years after 
entering the service. 

General Spears, after leaving the army returned to the prac- 
tice of his profession and to the work of regaining his fortune, 
which I infer had been a considerable one at the outbreak of 
the war. His health also was impaired by the hardships to 
which he had been exposed in his campaigns, and he never fully 
regained it. His life ended, as before stated, July 22, 1869, 
in the fifty-third year of his age. 

A few words as to A. L. Spears, his eldest son, who also was 
a soldier and an officer in the Union Army. This young man, 
aged eighteen, was a student at Emory and Henry College, Va., 
when the war broke out, and was in sentiment and sympathy 
with the South. It happened that he heard the Hon. John. B. 
Floyd boast, in a speech, I think, that he had, as Secretary of 
War, stripped the North of arms and sent them South for the 
use of those in insurrectipn against the United States. This 


baseness of Floyd was so shocking to the honor of young Spears 
that he immediately determined to leave college and enter the 
Union army. When he got home, however, his services were 
needed to take care of the family and the estate, his father 
being on the point of going to Kentucky to join the army. 
He accordingly concluded, by the direction of his father, to 
remain at home. After staying there a few weeks or months, 
he found himself the object of such suspicion and persecution 
that he was compelled to seek safety in flight to Kentucky, not- 
withstanding his father's orders to the contrary. 

In Kentucky he at once entered the army. In a short time 
he was appointed the Adjutant of his regiment, and continued 
in this position until the close, or near the close of the war. 

He was with his regiment in all its battles, including Sher- 
man's Georgia Campaign, on every field, displaying the quali- 
ties of a brave and noble soldier. After the war ended he 
studied law and followed that profession with great success, 
accumulating a large estate. In person he was large, tall, and 
fine-looking. He was well informed, and a most delightful con- 
versationalist. He was broad and liberal in his opinions, and 
altogether a most striking and attractive man. 


Family Among Settlers of Jamestown Taught by Parents Leader in 
Cumberland Plateau Defeated Twice for Legislature Activity in 
Behalf of Union Raised a Regiment Wounded and Taken Prisoner^ 
Tortured and Shot The Mountain Man "Tinker Dave." 

Benjamin Tolliver Staples, one of the leaders of the 
people on the Union side in 1861, was born in INIorgan County, 
Tennessee, December 24, 1817, the 3'oungest of fifteen children. 
His father, John Staples, at the age of eighteen, was a soldier 
in the Revolution, and served through the entire war. He was 
with Washington at Yorktown, and witnessed and shared in 
the crowning glory of the surrender of the British Army. His 
family were among the early settlers of Jamestown, the first 
cradle of English-speaking people on this continent. John 
Staples moved with his family to the gold fields of Georgia, 
where he lost a considerable fortune, and then came to Morgan 
County, Tennessee, a poor man. 

Tolliver Staples the name by which he was generally known 
though a man of good education, never went to school a day. 
He was taught by his parents, both of whom were educated. 
Before his twentieth year, he was employed by the County Sur- 
veyor as an assistant. Afterward he became County Surveyor 
himself, which position he held for a number of years. In 
addition to surveying he also farmed and raised stock. 

At the breaking out of the Rebellion and for some years 
previously, Staples was Clerk and Master of the Chancery 
Court of Morgan County an office requiring for the proper 
performance of its duties highest fidelity. In 1853 and again in 
1855 he was a Whig candidate for Representative in the Legis- 
lature for the District composed of the Counties of Morgan, 
Scott, and Fentress, and though the district was largely' Demo- 
cratic, he was each time defeated b}^ less than one hundred 

In 1860 Tolliver Staples was an ardent friend of the Union, 
and a supporter of Bell for the Presidency. When the Civil 
War was inaugurated, true to the teachings of the Whig party, 



he remained an unflinching friend of the old Government. He 
canvassed Morgan County, and devoted all the energies of his 
mind and body to defeat the insane and unwise measure. He was 
a delegate to the Knoxville Convention, called, it will be remem- 
bered, to aid in defeating the secession of Tennessee. His 
activity in behalf of the Union and his outspoken opposition 
to the Southern Confederacy led to his arrest in November or 
December, 1861, and his incarceration in jail at Knoxville. 
This was after the bridges on the railroads were burned, at 
that time of universal gloom and terror, when the prisons were 
overflowing with Union men, and the scaffold so frequently 
had its victims. 

After his release he made his escape into Kentucky and thence 
to Nashville. Here, he and others obtained authority to raise 
a regiment of Tennessee Cavalry for service in the Federal 
Army, of which Isham Young became Colonel; R. A. Davis, 
Lieutenant Colonel; J. S. Duncan, Major; and of which he 
was appointed Adjutant. On the 17th of March, 1863, he 
and Colonel Davis, Major Duncan, and a few soldiers en- 
countered a Confederate force at Pine Knot, Kentucky, where 
he was wounded and taken prisoner, his horse being killed. 
Major Duncan w^as also killed, and Colonel Davis wounded, 
though the latter succeeded in escaping. Staples was carried to 
Monticello, Ky. On the 22d he was given in charge of the 
command of the noted Confederate guerrilla, Champ Ferguson, 
to be taken to Knoxville. The guard took him about fifteen 
miles on the road toward Albany, Ky., where he was cruelly 
and inhumanely abused, even tortured, and finally shot.* 

Thus while a prisoner was a brave and a noble man foully 
murdered. This killing excited widespread sorrow and indig- 
nation at the time, and is even yet recalled with horror. 

Benjamin ToUiver Staples deserves mention, because of the 
wide influence he exerted, in 1861, on the people of a large part 
of the Cumberland Plateau. The brightest and brainiest man 
in all that region, he was also earnest and active. On all ques- 
tions of the current politics of the day he was Avell posted, 
he was a fluent talker, and was full of action and enthusiasm. A 

This is the account given of this affair by Samuel H. Staples, a son 
of Tolliver, who is a reputable lawyer living at Harriman, Tenn., and a 
Democrat, and the account corresponds with that current at the time and 
prevailing since. 


mountain man of extraoi'dinary mentality, of positiveness and 
energy, he was also endowed with courage, keen moral convic- 
tions, and a physical frame of the power and strength to com- 
mand universal respect a born leader among a mountain 

In 1860 and 1861 he was an uncompromising Union man, 
taking a deep interest in the political discussions of the time, 
and powerfully influencing the mountain people whose confidence 
he enjoyed. With a unanimity seldom witnessed, except in the 
County of Sevier, the people of this region were Union men. 
In the June election, on the question of separation or no separa- 
tion, the vote in Morgan County in its favor was only thirty- 
eight and in Scott nineteen. I have not the figures before me as 
to the vote in Cumberland and Fentress Counties, but it was 
overwhelmingly in favor of no separation, approximating the 
unanimity of Morgan and Scott. These people are brave, gen- 
erous, and, in the main, lawabiding. No such family and 
neighborhood feuds, often extending over whole counties and 
resulting in frightful shedding of blood, as those in some of the 
neighboring counties in Kentucky and in West Virginia, exist 
or ever have existed in this section. Nor is intoxication or 
illicit distilling as prevalent as would he expected in a mountain 
region. Indeed the latter is almost wholly unknown. In morals 
the people are remarkable, considering the lack of schools and 
of the advantages of an old civilization.* 

*Wheu I was a candidate for Chancellor in 1870, my competitor, an 
able lawyer, did not receive a single vote in Scott County. I had can- 
vassed in 18G0 these mountain counties, except Cumberland, as elector 
on the Bell-Everett ticket. Again, from 1870 to 1878, I held courts in 
them as Chancellor (excepting Cumberland), a part of the time in all 
of them, and for the whole time in one of them, and thus had a good 
opportunity of Ivuowing these people. During all that time I never heard 
of any general lawlessness, nor have I since. One of my courts, that of 
Fentress County, was about ninety miles from my home in Knoxville, 
every foot of which I was compelled to make on horseback. But I 
enjoyed my trips immensely, with venison and wild turkey as my meat. 
Here I met Captain Dave Beatty, or "Tinker Dave," as he was commonly 
called, the celebrated partisan or guerrilla commander of an independent 
company on the Union side during the Civil war. He operated in this 
mountain region and was the terror of all the Confederates. I venture 
to tell how I quieted him. The first day I opened court in Fentress 
County he took a conspicuous position near me, and in a short time 
commenced interrupting the proceedings by loud remarks in reference to 
them. He seemed to think it his duty to give his opinion about all matters 
that came up, as had been his habit. I admonished him gently that he 
must keep quiet. The admonition did not silence him. The third time he 


interrupted the court with his advice I said to him in a firm but kindly 
manner : "Captain Beatty, when you were in command of a company in 
the army and gave an order, you expected and required it to be obeyed 
without argument or talking back. There was but one captain in your 
company. Now, I am captain in this court and the Sheriff is my lieu- 
tenant. There is but one captain here, and the privates must not inter- 
fere." He quickly said : "I am shut pan," and became perfectly quiet 
from that moment. He afterward said to me at my hotel : "Judge, you 
are right ; there cannot be two captains for one company." I never had 
any trouble with him afterward, and we became good friends. He was a 
brave man and in many respects a good private citizen. 


Earnest Friend of Union His Fatlier in U. S. Navy Family Prominent 
in Social and Business Affairs Aided Union Guides Strong Family 
Dates in United States from 1630. 

If there was anywhere a better or more earnest friend of 
the Union than Dr. Joseph C. Strong, of Knox County, I 
should like to know who he was that I might in these pages 
devise some special honor to his memory. This generation does 
not and cannot comprehend the courage it required in the South, 
after June, 1861, to be a Union man, the sacrifices he made, 
the sufferings he endured, the dangers he was exposed to, and 
the reproaches and the obloquy he had to bear. And strange 
anomaly, the men who were false to our Government, and 
fought but failed to destroy it, with supreme arrogance assume 
that they are better than the men who were always true and 
faithful ! 

The immediate ancestor of Dr. Strong was Dr. Joseph C. 
Strong, a native of Massachusetts. He was a surgeon in the 
U. S. Navy. When President Jefferson adopted his foolish 
scheme of gunboats for the defense of the commerce and our 
coasts, he virtually destroyed our navy, and Dr. Strong there- 
fore resigned his position, and in 1802 came South and settled 
in Knoxville, Tenn, He became and so remained for many 
years an eminent physician in that city. On his death in 1838 
he left several children, and a considerable fortune. The Hon. 
Charles Ready, the eminent lawyer, and for a number of years 
a distinguished member of Congress from Middle Tennessee, 
married one of his daughters. Others married prominent busi- 
ness men. His descendants are numerous, and are among the 
first in the society and in the business circles of Knoxville. 
Among them is the well-known, public-spirited, and wealthy citi- 
zen, B. R. Strong, so highly esteemed by his fellow citizens of 
Knoxville for his uprightness. Two brothers, Gideon and 
Joseph, own the magnificent farm of the late Dr. Strong on the 
Holston River, the old homestead, twelve miles East of Knox- 
ville, and they are model farmers, prosperous and wide awake, 



and are among the best citizens of East Tennessee in every 
way. The descendants of Dr. Strong do honor to their long 
line of honorable ancestry. 

Dr. Joseph C. Strong lived in the country on the fine farm 
we have just mentioned. He was an educated gentleman, a 
slave holder, a practicing physician, and a man of intelligence, 
and possessed of a good estate. He was therefore naturally 
calculated to exert a wide influence among his acquaintances. 
In the February and June canvasses, 1861, he was an open, 
active, and avowed friend of the Union. But even after the 
State had aligned itself with the Southern Confederacy, he did 
not cease to work, nor grow faint-hearted. His farm was 
directly on the Union "trail" to Kentucky, and was the point 
for crossing the river for the refugees from Sevier County and 
a part of Knox, under the leadership of the famous guide 
Spencer Deaton. Dr. Strong knew all about their movements, 
and aided them in every conceivable manner in making their 
escape. His farm was a resting place for Deaton in passing 
to and from Kentucky. On one occasion Deaton was in Strong's 
barn when a Confederate regiment passed by on the public road 
within forty or fifty yards of the place where he was silently 
watching it. Dr. Strong's house was a secret place for the 
delivery of letters brought by Deaton from refugees in the 
army to their families in the neighborhood. This faithful 
guide one of the most noted in East Tennessee who success- 
fully piloted through the mountains thousands of fleeing Union 
men, was at last captured in the latter part of 1863 or early 
part of 186-i, carried to Richmond, condemned as a spy, and 
hanged in Libby Prison. It was astonishing how bold and reck- 
less these pilots became in their operations. I recollect seeing 
and talking with Deaton on the streets of Knoxville in 1863, 
while the Confederates held possession of that place. I did 
not then know he was engaged as a pilot for Union men. He, 
and all of his calling, led desperately hazardous lives, and 
their services to the Union refugees, and to the Union Army 
as well, were invaluable. 

If we seek for a much older family than that of the Strongs 
in the United States, we shall have to go back to Massasoit, 
the dusky king of the Narragansetts, or Powhatan, Emperor 
of the Virginians, for their ancestor Strong landed from the 
good ship, Mary and John, in Nantasket, in May, 1630. An 


examination of the date of the landing and the name of the vessel 
on which he arrived discloses the coincidence that he and 
Matthew Grant, the direct ancestor of Ulysses Grant, came over 
from England on the same vessel. The Moyfioicer had arrived 
in New England nine years earlier, but nine years is but a 
speck of time in nine generations of men. The Strongs can 
claim for their family a venerable antiquity in the United 
States. The passengers on the Mary and John settled at Dor- 
chester. As from one of them has sprung a president of the 
United States, we are encouraged to hope that a like good 
fortune may befall some one of the descendants of other 


Grandfather Owned Immense Estates Graduated at Washington Col- 
lege and Princeton Became a Minister Distinguished Appearance 
Rare Gifts Raised Funds for Relief of Destitute People of East Ten- 
nessee Aided by Rev. Dr. T. W. Humes Elector, 1860. 

Nathaniel G. Taylor, one of the prominent Union leaders 
of East Tennessee in 1860 and 1861, was born in Carter County, 
in December, 1819. He was the son of James P. Taylor, a 
bright lawyer in his day, and the grandson of General Na- 
thaniel Taylor, who came from Virginia at an early day and 
settled in Carter County. General Taylor was the owner of 
an immense landed estate, amounting to tens of thousands of 
acres, lying in the mountain regions of East Tennessee and 
Southwest Virginia. He was a man of wealth, and lived in fine 
style for his day. In the battle of New Orleans he commanded 
a regiment of Tennessee troops, and distinguished himself by 
valor and splendid soldierly bearing. 

The family of Nathaniel G. Taylor, the subject of our sketch, 
was wealthy and influential on both his father's and his mother's 
side. His educational advantages were of the first order. He 
took a course at Washington College, Tennessee, and then a 
second course at Princeton, where he was graduated about 
1842. He intended becoming a lawyer, and had perhaps entered 
upon the study of law, when an incident happened in 1843, 
which changed the whole tenor of his life. 

One Sabbath night, during a camp-meeting at Brushy Creek, 
at or near the present town of Johnson City, Miss IMary 
Taylor, a beautiful and lovely young lady, a sister of Mr. 
Taylor, and two young college mates of mine, John Miller 
from North Carolina, and David Gillespie of Rhea County, 
Avere conversing together in the door of one of the cabins, when 
they were all suddenly stricken down by a terrific flash of 
lightning. Miss Taylor and Mr. Miller were instantly killed; 
]\Ir. Gillespie, after weeks of suffering, finally recovered. This 
terrible calamity threw a gloom over the assemblage gathered 
at the camp ground. The news of it spread over the country 


and drew an immense crowd to the meeting. Religious feeling 
became deep and intense. Two or three days afterward Mr. 
Taylor arose near the pulpit, and with graceful and highly 
dramatic action and pathetic voice, deliA'ered a surpassingly 
fervid, impassioned, and thrilling religious exhortation. Com- 
ing as this address did, when all present were already under 
a spell of profound excitement, the effect was electrical. The 
sea of human beings was stirred as if it had been swept by 
a tempest. I often heard Mr. Taylor afterward, in the days 
of his maturity, but never heard him surpass, or even equal, 
this effort made at the age of twenty-three. Soon after this 
incident he became a Methodist minister. 

Mr. Taylor was endowed in many respects with rare gifts. 
His person was remarkably striking. Though of only medium 
height, there was an elegance, a rotundity, and a dignity about 
it that at once commanded respect. His face was highly 
striking. There was in it a foreign look that gave him a most 
distinguished appearance. Perhaps it was the blood of Poca- 
hontas reappearing in him. His whole person was marked by 
a refinement indicating high breeding. We say this about horses 
and cattle, and why should we not say it about man, highest 
and noblest created thing? His voice was strong and clear, and 
in its higher tones ringing and musical. His language was 
always chaste and elegant. He had a rich fancy, but his good 
taste and education held it in check. There was seldom an}^- 
thing in his speeches of an extravagant character ; or that 
bordered on bombast. He possessed humor and sometimes 
indulged it, but he never descended to buffoonery. As an 
orator, when he had the proper spur and incentive, he was 
superior to his celebrated brother-in-law, Landon C. Haynes. 
For rough work or boisterous talk, I admit he was not Haynes' 
equal. It was perhaps well that Mr. Tajdor did not follow 
the law. He neither had the industry nor the taste for a pro- 
fession of any details. 

The people of East Tennessee owe to ^Ir. Taylor's memory 
a lasting debt of gratitude. In 1864< he originated the idea 
of securing some relief for the people of this section, who 
were already in great need of the common necessaries of life, and 
were likely to become in the near future almost absolutely 
destitute. This state of want was the natural result of the 
occupation of East Tennessee by three armies General T^ong- 


street's in the upper part, General Burnside's in the central, 
and General Sherman's in the lower part. Toward the close 
of 1863 the destitution was becoming alarming. About this 
time Mr. Taylor, moved by his sympathy for the people, and 
of his own will, went North to secure aid for the suffering 
people. He began the work alone, by making public speeches, 
soon attracting volunteers to his aid. In Boston a great public 
meeting was held in Faneuil Hall. INIr. Everett, Governor 
Andrews, and indeed nearly all the leading men of the city 
attended, and took seats on the platform. Mr. Taylor made 
a splendid, thrilling speech, in which he pleaded with all his 
nature for relief for his countrymen in the valleys and moun- 
tains of East Tennessee. Mr. Everett followed in one of his 
beautiful, masterly addresses. That of Mr. Taylor was hardly 
inferior to that of INIr. Everett. The result was that a plan 
was organized, and committees were appointed for raising 
money in the New England States and elsewhere. Money 
poured in by thousands to the committees. All over New 
England many women and even children vied with one another 
in their generous contributions. Philadelphia and other cities 
caught the contagion, and in a few months the sum of over one 
hundred thousand dollars was raised. This money was 
judiciously laid out from time to time by these committees, for 
provisions, shoes, clothing, etc., and forwarded to an Executive 
Committee at Knoxville, and distributed through local commit- 
tees to all the Counties in East Tennessee. These supplies were 
sold at about cost to those who were in want and were able to 
pay for them, and this money reinvested in other supplies. To 
the destitute supplies were given gratuitously. Thus by the 
happy conception of Mr. Ta34or, and in his noble efforts, aided 
by Mr. Everett and other philanthropic gentlemen, were the 
people of this section saved from great suffering and perhaps 
a famine during the years 1864 and 1865. 

It is a gratif^ang fact, highly honorable to the venerable 
president, the Rev. Dr. T. W. Humes, and to the other members 
of the local Executive Committee at Knoxville that these large 
supplies, amounting in the aggregate to perhaps $200,000, 
were all distributed without reward, and the accounts closed 
on settlement with Northern agents, without any complaint, or 
even suspicion of speculation, corruption, or favoritism. 

Mr. Taylor deserves for his canvass in 1860, as elector for 


the State at large, on the Bell-Everett ticket, more than a 
passing notice. He seemed to be deeply impressed with the 
danger which threatened the Government. I heard at one time, 
and this was concurrent testimony of all who heard him, that 
in his discussion with W. C. Whitthorne, at Knoxville, his 
speech was a remarkably brilliant and masterly effort, so far 
as it applied to the question of secession. It produced at the 
time a great sensation among scholarly men. A week or two 
later I heard the discussion between the same parties at Taze- 
well, but on this occasion his speech was less remarkable. How 
he sustained himself at other places I do not know, but I think 
well, and sometimes splendidly. The question of disunion was 
one well suited to his peculiar talents. 

Mr. Taylor was a man of uncertain and unequal moods. It 
required a great theme, a great occasion, and a present stimulus 
or inspiration to call out his powers. His temperament and 
mind were rather phlegmatic. They needed shaking up and 
arousing. When they were quickened into activity, he was 
always successful. Indeed under the proper conditions he was 
a most chaste, graceful, and eloquent orator. He, however, was 
under all circumstances dignified, scholarly, pleasing, and 
honorable, and on some rare occasion he had but few, if any, 
superiors as a speaker. 

Personally Mr. Taylor was a delightful gentleman. He was 
gentle, genial, and cheerful. His temper was even and placid. 
He loved ease and tranquillity. While he loved political honors, 
he scarcely possessed the ceaseless energy necessary for high 
success in that field of endeavor, and yet he was frequently a 
candidate for office. In 1849 he was a candidate for Congress 
in the first district against Andrew Johnson, but there being 
a good Democratic majority in favor of his competitor, he was 
defeated. In 1853 he was again a candidate, against Albert 
G. Watkins and Brookins Campbell, the early rival of Mr. 
Johnson, and his competitor for the Legislature in 1837 and 
1839. Mr. Campbell was elected, but died while serving his 
first term. Mr. Taylor again became a candidate, and was 
elected to fill out the unexpired term of Mr. Campbell, defeat- 
ing Mr. Watkins. In 1855, and again in 1857, he was a candi- 
date, but was defeated by Mr. Watkins. In 1865 Mr. Taylor 
was successful in his race for Congress. After the expiration 
of this term, he was appointed by President Johnson Com- 


missioner of Indian affairs, which office he held until after the 
Administration of General Grant came into power. In 1852, 
and again in 1856, Mr. Taylor served as an elector on the 
Whig ticket. 

In the canvass of 1860 he was Elector for the State at 
large, and rendered splendid service for the Union cause by his 
eloquent, earnest speeches. At a little later period, when the 
question of secession came directly before the people of Ten- 
nessee, he gave his powerful voice and influence in opposition 
to that movement. Yet he was not so active in his opposition 
as a number of other men, though equally as earnest. He was 
an old-line AVhig, and the Whig party in Tennessee at first, 
at least, was almost solidly arrayed against secession. 

Mr. Taylor was the father of Hon. A. A. Taylor, who was 
elected a member of Congress three times from the celebrated 
first district of Tennessee, so long represented by Andrew 
Johnson. He was also the father of Governor Robert L. Tay- 
lor, so distinguished as a stump orator and a humorous lecturer. 
The latter is now one of the most successful lecturers, in his 
line, in the United States. As a delightful orator he is with- 
out his peer. It was simply amazing how many beautiful, 
happy, unrivaled little speeches he made as Governor at Nash- 
ville, during the Centennial Exposition in 1897. Each was a 
rare gem of beauty. His voice, his words, his manner were the 
perfection of art. 

Nathaniel G. Taylor deserves to be held in grateful re- 
membrance by his countrymen for his many noble virtues, his 
pure life, and his exalted example. He deserves to be re- 
membered especially by the people of East Tennessee for the 
splendid work he undertook alone in 1864, in securing funds 
and provisions for the needy and starving people, to thousands 
of whose homes and firesides famine came so near, and was re- 
lieved or averted by his efforts. 


Studied Law State Senate Three Terms Attorney General Active in 
Conciliation Confined at Tuscaloosa. 

A brief, but honorable, and at the same tune a sad story 
in the end, is the one I have to tell of Montgomery Thorn- 
burgh. He was born in Jefferson County, Tennessee, in 1817; 
and obtained a limited education in New Market, at his own 
home. He was a farmer by profession in the early part of his 
life, before he entered political life and studied law, though he 
sometimes assisted his father in his tanyard in the winter- 
time. In 1845 he was elected to the State Senate, although 
he seems to have been but twenty-eight years of age at the time. 
He was also elected to the Senate in 181?7 and in 1849. In 
all his legislative career he was faithful and independent in the 
discharge of his duties. He must have had, and indeed did 
have, popular ways and manners as a candidate, for he was 
opposed, at least, in his last race, by strong and winning men. 
He was alwaj^s strong and pointed on the stump as a speaker 
never elegant and polished, but with his sledgehammer blows 
and with his plain common sense, he accomplished more than 
ornate speech would have done. 

About 1850 Mr. Thornburgh obtained a license to practice 
law and was admitted to the bar. In 1851 he was elected 
Attorney General of the Twelfth Judicial District, and on the 
expiration of his term of office, he was re-elected. I have been 
told by his family that he was elected Attorney General three 
times, but as each term was six years, and as the two would 
have extended his time to 1862 or 1863, I believe they arc 

As a prosecuting officer Mr. Thornburgh was vigilant and 
able, bringing out the evidence before the court and jury 
with great skill, and arguing the facts with vigor and power. 
After his many years of experience in criminal trials he became 
a strong jury lawyer. 

In all the social relations of life Mr. Thornburgh was a 
gentleman of integrity and of high moral deportment, warm 



and genial in his friendships, and just in all his relations. 
He had many warm friends, because he was a big-hearted, as 
well as a big-bodied man. He was over six feet high, and weighed 
about two hundred and twenty pounds. 

In politics Mr. Thornburgh was an earnest Whig. When 
the exciting contests of 1860 and of the early part of 1861 
preludes to the Civil War were everywhere filling the minds 
of men with anxious forebodings, he most naturally adhered 
to the party whose watchword was the Union and the Consti- 
tution. Subsequently, when the question of secession came 
directly before the people of the State, and the dark shadows 
of the tempest of revolution were appearing, he threw all his 
mind and powers in behalf of peace and the Union. He made 
speeches in favor of abiding in the old Government, and used 
his utmost influence in behalf of that policy. When, how- 
ever, the people of the State voted in favor of separation, and 
separation became an established fact, he yielded a quiet sub- 
mission to the supremacy of the Confederacy. He was a 
member of the Greeneville Convention, which met after the 
final vote on the question of secession, and in that body he both 
spoke and voted in favor of peaceable resolutions and measures. 
I think it is true that, at all times, he advised submission on the 
part of the people to the new government. 

After the burning of the bridges in November, 1861, Mr. 
Thornburgh was greatly exercised in his mind over the sad 
condition of the Union men, many of whom had been led by 
overzeal and undue confidence into rebellious acts against the 
authorities over them, and hundreds of whom had been thrown 
into prison. From these causes his mind was most anxiously 
engaged in the work of conciliation. I saw him and consulted 
with him more than once, and I can recall no one who more 
earnestly desired the tranquillity of the Union portion of the 
population of East Tennessee. 

Notwithstanding the pacific disposition of Mr. Thornburgh 
and his earnest efforts to prevent an outbreak among the Union 
population of the countr}'^, in the month of IMay, 186S, he was 
arrested by the Confederate military authorities on the charge 
of disloyalty and taken to Knoxville. At the same time Wil- 
liam Galbraith, Samuel P. Johnson, and James Monroe Meek 
were arrested in the town of New Market. In a short time they 
were all sent South to Tuscaloosa for confinement. After remain- 


ing there a short time, Mr. Thornburgh (and I believe the 
others) was sent to Macon, Ga. The hardships of travel and 
of prison life, the bitterness of arrest, and the odium of con- 
finement among a population every one of whom detested a 
Union man, soon told on his proud spirit and robust constitu- 
tion. Disease laid hold of him, and in July his strength yielded 
to his gloomy surroundings. Thus passed away, amid the 
horrors of military prison life, the spirit of one of the best and 
most honorable of the noble Union men of East Tennessee. 


Lawyer Cbaucellor Circuit Judge Mind Clear and Quick. 

The subject of this sketch was a young man engaged in the 
practice of law in Hamilton County when the Civil War broke 
out in 1861. He was born and reared in Bradley County, East 
Tennessee. The well-known lawyer and highly esteemed citizen, 
Levi Trewhitt, was his father, whose sad death in a Southern 
prison is still talked of and remembered with sorrow by 
thousands of East Tennesseeans. In his old age he was seized, 
and after being in close confinement some time at Knoxville, 
he was carried off to prison at Tuscaloosa, thence to Mobile, 
without a trial, for no other crime except being a Union man. 
One of the deepest stains on the character of the Southern 
Confederacy is the treatment of this innocent old man. 

Daniel C. Trewhitt was a Union man in 1861, and as such 
he canvassed Hamilton County, making speeches against seces- 
sion. He was a pointed and incisive speaker, clear and logical, 
and full of earnest conviction. His speeches therefore had 
considerable weight in shaping the opinions of the people of 
Hamilton County. He was so active and outspoken against se- 
cession that he had to flee from his home and seek refuge in Ken- 
tucky in 1861, when the Southern Confederacy became dominant 
in Tennessee. There he enlisted in the army and was made 
Lieutenant Colonel of the 2d Regiment of Tennessee Infantry, 
and afterward he became General Spears' Adjutant-General, 
Morgan's Division. He was a most capable officer, and well 
suited for the position he held. 

In 1865 he was appointed Chancellor for the Chattanooga 
Chancery Division, and held the Chancery Courts until 1870, 
when the new Constitution went into efi"ect. He then went 
back to the bar, and practiced law until 1878, when he was 
elected Circuit Judge for the Chattanooga Circuit. In 1886 
he was re-elected, and held that office until his death, January 
4, 1891, having served as Chancellor and Circuit Judge al- 
together nearly eighteen years. 

Both as Chancellor and as Circuit Judge he was considered 



by the members of his profession an able and an impartial 
presiding officer. He grasped and solved the questions coming 
before him for determination with almost intuitive knowledge. 
His mind was singularly clear and quick. It did not require 
a moment's deliberation for him to decide all ordinary ques- 
tions. The result was that he dispatched business with great 
rapidity. He was endowed by nature with the mind of a high 
grade lawyer and an able judge. With all this he was honest, 
and loved justice, and was quick to discover it. He was in fact 
an exceptionally able and upright judge.* 

*I applied to one of Judge Trewhitt's near relatives for fuller informa- 
tion concerning bis life, but was unable to obtain it. 


Born in Abingdon Defeated for Congress in 1853 In 1855 in Partner- 
ship with Author Delegate to State Convention in 1861 Favorite 
with Union People Left Tennessee in 1861 Took Part in Guberna- 
torial Canvass in Ohio in 1863 Appointed U. S. Judge in 1864 
Crowded Docket Sympathizes with Those Lately Opposed U. S. vs. 
Moses Gamble Never Severe. 

CoNNALLY F. Trigg, one of the prominent Union leaders 
in East Tennessee, in 1861, was born in Abingdon, Va., 
in the year 1810, and died in Bristol, Tenn,, April 25, 
1880, at the age of seventy years. He belonged to an old 
and highly respectable family. In some way he was related to 
the Campbells, the Prestons, and to most of the old families 
of Abingdon, a town famous for its aristocracy. In 1833 
he obtained license to practice law, and at once entered upon 
his profession. He became a good lawyer, and secured a fair 
share of the business there was at that time in Southwest 
Virginia. The business in the Courts was not large, and there 
were many able lawyers to share it. Mr. Trigg had a natural 
fondness for politics, and often took part, as a volunteer, in 
political canvasses. He was an ardent Whig. In 1853, per- 
haps, he was urged by his friends to become a candidate for 
Congress, and yielded to their solicitations. His competitor 
was the somewhat noted Fayette Mullins made famous by 
the pen of William G. Brownlow. The contest was hot and 
exciting, and became for the time being somewhat celebrated, at 
a distance. But as Mullins was backed by a Democratic ma- 
jority, Trigg was defeated. Notwithstanding this defeat, he 
gained considerable celebrity in this canvass, by the ability he 
displayed as a debater and orator. 

In 1855 Mr. Trigg removed to Knoxville, Tenn., where he 
entered into partnership Avith me. This partnership lasted 
until 1859. Mr. Trigg was an able, clear-headed, exact law- 
yer. He had by nature a fine legal mind. He never seemed 
to read much, and yet he was well grounded in all the leading 
principles of law demanded in the profession in the region 
where he resided. He was a skillful pleader under the old 


Common Law forms. I saw his learning and his ability tested 
in every kind of a case in cases involving hundreds of 
thousands of dollars, in every conceivable question of law, in 
complicated actions of ejectment, in exciting murder trials 
and in all he was equal to the most exciting demands. And 
yet he disliked labor. Trigg was hardly the equal of Baxter, 
or Lyon, or Sneed, and yet he was not greatly their inferior. 
In the forcible presentation of facts, indeed he was the superior. 
He was somewhat peculiar in this, that he was nearly equally 
strong in all departments of professional action. 

After the removal of Mr. Trigg to Tennessee, he took no 
part in politics until January, 1861, when the exciting scenes 
of secession in the Southern States called him from the quietude 
of his profession. When the Legislature called for the election 
of delegates to a State Convention, to which was to be submitted 
the solemn question of the secession of the State, the Union 
people turned to him as one of those delegates. He was nomi- 
nated unanimously to represent the Counties of Knox and 
Roane. He immediately entered the canvass with the most 
intense earnestness and enthusiasm. His speeches were able, 
daring, and aggressive. If anyone in the State was more bitter 
and unsparing in denunciation of the secession movement than 
he, I fail to recall such a person, unless it was Mr. Baxter. 
Trigg was in fact an ardent, bold, uncompromising Union man, 
with the courage to proclaim his opinions in terms sometimes 
startling. His fearlessness and bravery in those trying days 
made him a fit companion of Johnson, Nelson, Baxter, and 
Brownlow. As a public speaker he was but little inferior to the 
best of them perhaps only to Johnson and Nelson. While 
inferior to Baxter in mental power, he was decidedly his superior 
in effectiveness as a speaker. And, while inferior to Mr. May- 
nard in well-rounded periods, he was decidedly his superior in 
the bold portrayal of the mad scheme to disrupt the national 
Government. When he warmed in his speeches, his whole mind 
and soul seemed to be on fire. As his excitement grew in in- 
tensity, and with wild dramatic action of body and voice, he 
reached some startling point, his audience would be roused into 
a state of wildest excitement. 

Mr. Trigg was a gallant man, who would neither give nor 
submit to an insult. He possessed in a high degree a genial, 
sunshiny disposition, and his nature was essentially equable 


and gentle. And yet on the stump, and before juries, his whole 
being seemed charged with electricity. 

He was certainly an effective, powerful, popular speaker. 
He had no imagination, nor was he a polished orator, but he 
possessed earnestness, ardor, action, thought, and conviction. 
This intense ardor, this dramatic action was strange in him, 
for off the stump, he was deliberate, unexcitable, indeed almost 

In the canvass of the winter and spring of 1861 Mr. Trigg 
made a considerable reputation, and became a great favorite 
of the Union people. He justly deserves to be ranked as one 
of the ablest of the Union leaders. In both the Knoxville and 
Greeneville Conventions, he was Chairman of the "Business 
Committee," to which was referred all resolutions. In conse- 
quence, he took no part in the discussion on the floor, and 
hence it is impossible to say how he stood in the latter Con- 
vention on the exciting question that divided that body. It 
is probable that, like three-fourths of the members, he at first 
favored the ultra-war-like resolutions of Nelson, since, with- 
out any dissent, he reported them to the Convention for adop- 
tion; but that he afterward changed his mind in favor of the 
"Substitute" finally adopted. Whether or not this be true cannot 
be certainly known. It is very well known that Mr. Trigg 
was calm and level-headed. As a member of a secret committee 
with him I had an opportunity of knowing that after the 
Greeneville Convention he used all his influence in restraining 
Union men from any violence or resistance to Confederate 
authority. I know further that soon after that Convention, he 
and his committee suppressed and prevented an outbreak of 
Union men in one of the counties of East Tennessee. 

Mr. Trigg was known after the State seceded as a determined 
Union man. He became restless and dissatisfied under the 
new government, He may have been, and no doubt was, uneasy 
as to his personal safety. I know of no prominent Union man 
who was not. So, in the fall of 1861, he determined to make 
his escape into Kentucky. This purpose was communicated to 
a few intimate friends. One night he mounted his fine blooded 
saddle horse, and rode off alone toward Kentucky. After one 
or more narrow escapes from capture, in three or four nights' 
travel, he reached a place of safety inside the Federal lines. He 
remained in the North until 1864, when he returned to the State 


to open his courts, having been appointed by President Lincohi 
Judge of the United States Courts for the District of Tennessee. 
In the gubernatorial canvass of Ohio, in 1863, lie took a prom- 
inent part as a speaker in behalf of Governor Brough, with 
fame to himself. After the close of the canvass the prominent 
Union men of Cincinnati gave him a banquet as a testimonial 
of their high appreciation of his services on the stump. 

When the United States Courts in Tennessee were opened by 
Judge Trigg he found crowded dockets and a vast number of 
cases demanding attention. These involved grave questions 
growing out of the Civil War. There were confiscation cases, 
treason cases, and revenue cases, all involving new legal questions. 
He brought to the consideration of these questions judicial 
fairness, and unfailing patience. I do not recall that a single 
decision of his upon these war questions was ever overruled. 
It would have been remarkable if he had given universal satis- 
faction. He did not. There was much complaint that his 
decisions were all favorable to those lately hostile to the govern- 
ment. The public mind was greatly excited, and the evil pas- 
sions aroused by the late Civil War were still dominant, but 
in the light of experience and reason, it is manifest now that 
decisions that tended toward peace and good will were wisest 
and best for all classes. 

Not many months passed after Judge Trigg ascended the 
bench before it became evident that his sympathies and feelings 
were all on the side of those to whom he had been lately so 
hostile. This was the more striking when it was considered that 
he was not a fickle, emotional man, a man of hot impulses and 
bitter prejudices, but the very reverse. He was conspicuous for 
his fairness, his coolness, and his tenacity of opinion. And yet 
he changed, and never returned to his old life-long party affilia- 
tions. No one ever knew the reason. Perhaps he did not him- 
self. Possibly the subtle influence of social recognition and 
position, then as now, so strong in the State, silently and even 
unconsciously, touched his ambition, or his pride, and did its 
potent work. It is not ungrateful even to a judge to receive 
the flattering attention of the powerful and the rich, and to 
find the doors of elegant and hospitable homes at all times open 
to him. 

It is a somewhat singular fact that the five Union leaders 
of East Tennessee Johnson, Nelson, Baxter, Carter, and 


Trigg who were the most implacable in 1861, should all have 
found themselves in 1866 and afterward in full fellowship with 
their old enemies. In some cases the change can be easily ex- 
plained, but in others it cannot be. 

Among other novel cases that came before Judge Trigg at 
Knoxville was that of United States vs. Moses Gamble, for 
treason. Under an Act of the Legislature, Governor Harris 
appointed Mr. Gamble, an agent in Blount County, to seize and 
bring in to the Confederate authorities all arms belonging to 
the people. This act was designed to disarm Union men. Mr. 
Gamble was a Union man, and accepted the office in all proba- 
bility only to avoid being suspected by his Confederate neigh- 
bors. He discharged his duties with gentleness and kindness. 
Nevertheless he had to take some arms from his neighbors, and 
this gave offense to the Union men. When the United States 
Court was opened, he was indicted for these acts, being charged 
with waging war against the United States and of giving aid 
and comfort to its enemies. The trial before the court and 
jury consumed two days. I appeared as counsel for the defend- 
ant. The law as expounded by Chief Justice jMarshall in the 
celebrated case of the United States vs. Aaron Burr was relied 
on for the defense. Judge Trigg charged the jury in that way, 
and it accordingly returned a verdict of not guilty. The case 
is unique ; it was the only trial in the county for treason, so far 
as I recall, growing out of the great Civil War in 1861-5, and 
this, too, the trial of a Union man. Many indictments were 
found against persons engaged in hostilities against the Govern- 
ment, but all were dismissed. This was best. No stain of blood- 
shed for treason tarnishes the fair record of the United States. 
This is an imperishable monument to the magnanimity of the 
triumphant party. 

In inflicting punishment on the violators of the law, Judge 
Trigg could never find it in his heart to be severe. His kind 
nature was pained and shocked at the thought of suffering. 
Every violator of the law found in him, if not a friend, a sympa- 
thizer. He punished the guilty, but with the utmost humanity. 

In person Judge Trigg was tall, slender, erect, and athletic. 
He was highly sociable in disposition, generous and magnani- 
mous. He had his faults, but where there was so much that was 
good, so much to love, let the faults be forever covered by the 
mantle of charity. 


Born and Lived in Anderson County Circuit Judge Exceptional Land 
Lawyer Arrested Captain of Tennessee Artillery Good Financier. 

It is with pleasure that I write of my more than fifty years' 
friend and companion in my profession, Judge David K. Young. 
Away back in our careers, and later, too, when the lengthening 
shadows were being cast toward the East, together we rode and 
chatted and merrily laughed at passing incidents, or recalled 
from the silence of the past those of other years. Together we 
traversed the pleasant valleys and climbed the rugged mountains 
in pursuit of our profession. Together we slept in log cabins 
and ate corn bread, such as is made only in good mountain 
homes, and feasted on fresh venison and wild turkey. To- 
gether we ascended the eastern slope of life's journey, and to- 
gether we are now far down on the w^estern, while our com- 
panions who started with us, some a little earlier, some a little 
later, have one by one dropped out by the wayside, and we are 
left almost alone to finish our brief remaining course. 

And our other friend and companion, in later years, the 
third of the trio Judge William A. Henderson, the most genial, 
the brightest of men, the life of every company should have 
a notice in these sketches, but alas, in early years he wandered 
down into "Dixie's land to take his stand, and live or die for 
Dixie," and therefore, can have no place in this gallery of 
familiar faces! 

Judge Young was born in Anderson County, his present 
home, January 1, 1826. He was the son of Samuel C. Young, 
a most respectable old citizen, whose father was a native of 
the Highlands of Scotland. In 1849 he obtained license to prac- 
tice law, and settled in Clinton, the county seat. From that 
day until the present time he has been continuously connected 
with the bench and bar of Tennessee, except a brief period 
during the Civil War. During all that time he has maintained, 
as a lawyer, judge, and man, a position of considerable eminence. 

He was Circuit Judge of his circuit from 1873 to 1886, 
once by appointment to fill a vacancy and twice by the election 



of the people. During this time, or a part of it, he was by 
statute assigned to hold the Chancery Court in five of the 
counties of the circuit. 

As a judge he was courteous, prompt, and impartial, and 
as a lawyer, ready, faithful, and honorable. His speeches at 
the bar were models of brevity, clearness, and earnestness, never 
wearing out the court or jury by long, noisy declamation. 
As a land lawyer his attainments are exceptionally good. 

In 1861 Judge Young, being an old-line Whig, was naturally 
an earnest advocate of the Union. He was active in its support. 
He and L. C. Houk, then a very young man, were the only 
Union speakers residing in Anderson County. Soon after the 
Confederate troops entered that county, he was arrested by them 
as an influential leader, and held a prisoner for a while. In 
1863, after the occupation of East Tennessee by the Federal 
army, he organized and was made Captain of Battery D, 1st 
Tennessee Artillery, assigned to the heavy artillery, and placed 
in command of Fort Johnson, which was the capitol at Nashville. 
He was under the command of General W. T. Sherman. He re- 
mained in command of that Fort until he was appointed Attor- 
ney General of the 2d Circuit, which office he held until the latter 
part of 1868, faithfully performing the duties thereof. 

Judge Young lives about one mile and a half from Clinton, 
on the famous farm known as "Eagle Bend." It is one of the 
fmest farms of the State, comprising many hundreds of acres, a 
large part of which is rich bottom land on the Clinch River. 
Here he is surrounded by every comfort and luxury that an un- 
corrupted taste can desire. His heart, however, is in his pro- 
fession, and it has never been particularly fascinated with rural 
affairs. He has given up the management of the farm to a 
large extent to his son, James Walter Young, who divides his 
time between scientific farming and the cultivation of literature. 
Judge Young has been particularly fortunate as a financier, 
and has by his shrewd judgment built up the largest fortune ever 
made by a lawyer in East Tennessee, possibly excepting Judge 
Robert J. McKinney. And this, as in the case of Judge 
McKinney, has been made honestly and by judicious economy. 

Judge Young still delights in the mountains ; he still attends 
their courts. He is a good horseman, and when the term comes 
around, true to his early habits, he can still be seen, as fifty 


j'ears ago, mounted on a good horse, setting out for these 
courts, and he must be a good horseman, whether young or old, 
who can keep pace with him, or ride as far in one day. He 
is a remarkably preserved man for his years young, vigorous, 
and cheerful, and playful as a boy. In none of his ways, nor 
yet in his looks or action, does he seem an old man. 



Attracted Great Interest Democratic District Temple Young, Un- 
known, Inexperienced Johnson's Position Impregnable, but Record 
Vulnerable First Debate, July 11 Lively Contentions Disaffection 
Toward Johnson Temple's Letter to W. G. Brownlow Temple Had 
Good Voice Ardor, Enthusiasm Johnson Approaches Competitor to 
Withdraw Fifteen Appointments Less than Three Weeks' Cam- 
paign No Personalities Notice in Brownlow's Paper Enthusiasm 
Over Temple at Washington College Among His Fellow-Students 
Political Conditions Temple Fought Johnson with His Own Weapons 
Whig Leaders Stood Aloof from Temple Time Too Short to Over- 
come Inertia of the Whigs They Were Too Indifferent to Go to Polls 
Johnson's Majority 314 In the County Canvassed Thoroughly by 
Temple His Vote Largest Ever Given a Whig Temple Changed Resi- 
dence to Avoid Politics. 

The race of Andrew Johnson and myself for Congress in 
1847 excited considerable interest in the district at the time 
it was taking place, and still greater interest throughout the 
State immediately after its result was known. It is still talked 
of to this day more than fifty-six years after the event. Un- 
questionably this was mainly due to the prominence of Mr. 
Johnson, and the unexpected result of the election. The dis- 
tinguished position which he afterward attained has naturally 
stimulated a curiosity to learn every incident connected with 
his strange and most extraordinary career. I know therefore 
that I shall but meet a general desire by attempting to give 
even at this late day some of the leading facts in reference to 
that race. 

The first Congressional district of Tennessee had been Whig 
in politics from 1836. It was represented in 1842-43 by 
Thomas D. Arnold, an old and bitter anti-Jackson Whig. At 
the same time Andrew Johnson was a Senator in the Legislature, 
and in laying off the Congressional districts, under the new 
apportionment, he had a new district carved out for himself, 
which was Democratic by about fifteen hundred majority. It 
was his ambition to go to Congress in 1843 and fill the place 
he had created expressly for himself. But in fixing up the new 
district, Abraham McClellan, another Democrat, who had 


represented an adjoining district several terms as it had been 
previously constituted, was transferred as it were to Mr. John- 
son's district by attaching Sullivan County, his home, to it. Mr. 
McClellan wished to continue in Congress, but Mr. Johnson, by 
his aggressiveness, silenced and drove him off. Mr. Johnson 
was therefore easily elected in 1843 over John A. Aiken, an 
eloquent and worthy man who ran as a United States Bank 
Democrat. When the canvass of 1845 came around, a new 
and brilliant star, glittering with scintillations, Landon C. 
Haynes, rose in the horizon, crossing in its course the orbit of 
Mr. Johnson. A collision was imminent, and while passing 
fearfully near, they missed actual contact for the time being. 
To drop the figure, Mr. Haynes, after threatening awhile and 
showing a warlike spirit, deferred his race until 1847. In the 
meanwhile Mr. McClellan and his large kindred and friends 
were again watchful, active, and expectant, but they finally 
retired with mutterings and inward curses against Mr. Johnson. 
Thereupon W. G. Brownlow, a Whig, became a candidate 
against Mr. Johnson, and was defeated, as Mr. Aiken had 

When 1847 came around it was confidently expected that the 
ambition of Mr. Haynes could no longer be repressed. At the 
same time the aspirations of Mr. McClellan were by no means 
extinguished, but Mr. Haynes was by very much the more 
potent and had the larger following. For a long time, Mr. 
Haynes, while a quasi candidate, hesitated whether to be or not 
to be an avowed one. It was universally expected he would 
announce himself. Mr. Johnson all along had expected it, and 
on the faith of that belief, and in order to fence against it, he 
committed in the late Congress the most stupendous political 
blunder and party crime of his life. Finally, late In the canvass, 
Mr. Haynes withdrew his pursuit of Congressional honors to 
the less ambitious but more certain one of a Senatorial seat in 
the Legislature, followed by the speakership of that body. 

Thus Mr. Johnson was left with a clear field. There was 
no longer any danger of Democratic opposition, and equally 
as little, apparently less, indeed, from the Whig party. The 
old Whig leaders did not covet certain defeat. Some of them, 
indeed, had promised INIr. Johnson that he should have no Whig 
opposition. While it was yet considered certain that INIr. 
Haynes would be a candidate, and more certain that no Whig 


would be, Mr. Johnson, feeling that he held an impregnable 
position, went over the district in the early days of the canvass, 
in his pride of might and defiance of temper, denouncing, al- 
most by name, the leaders and their friends who were opposed 
to him, as an upstart, mushroom aristocracy, who were striving 
for selfish ends to put him down, and foist one of themselves 
upon the people. He delivered long harangues in Jonesboro 
against the Blairs and Haynes, and in Blountville against the 
McClellans, Gammons, and their friends. 

While the situation was as I have described it, Neill S. Brown, 
then a Whig candidate for Governor, came along in the latter 
days of June, making speeches, and suggested to me to become 
a candidate for Congress, saying there never had been such a 
chance for a bold young man to make reputation as that district 
presented, and earnestly urging me to become a candidate. A 
little later Mr. Brownlow, and then another gentleman, Avith- 
out concert, urged me to this course. I was then residing in 
Greeneville, near the home of my ancestors, twenty-seven years 
of age, with a law license less than a year old, and with virtually 
no business. At first I was awed at the idea of encountering 
Andrew Johnson, and quite as much so by the thought of the 
amazement of my friends at my temerity. To rush in the face 
of such majority, against such a man, with little experience on 
my part, and young and unknown, looked on its face like fool- 
hardiness. But I was ambitious, full of bounding young blood, 
and cared little for the consequences. What if I should be 
beaten.'^ I would have excitement and a lively time the joy 
of youth. I knew I would receive blows and wounds, but I 
knew equally well that Mr. Johnson was not invulnerable, and 
from my well-filled quiver, however feeble my arms, I expected 
to be able to inflict some wounds also. This was the confidence 
of young manhood. In middle life no consideration would have 
induced me to make that race. Perhaps I was emboldened in 
this course by the recollection of a little encounter between us 
in 1840, while I was in my minority, in a young men's Whig 
meeting in Greeneville, where the occasion, the audience, and 
the circumstances were all unfavorable to Mr. Johnson, in 
which I had gained my first popular applause at his expense. 

So I announced myself as a candidate about the 6th or 7th 
of July. I almost immediately set out for Jonesboro, where 
I issued a circular, and then went to Taylorville, the seat of 


Johnson County, where ]\Ir. Johnson had an appointment to 
speak on Monday, July 11th, the first day of Circuit Court. 
The crowd assembled to hear Mr. Johnson was moderately 
large, but few people knowing I was a candidate. INIr. Johnson 
opened the discussion ; he simply referred to the fact that I was 
present, and a candidate, and would speak. At the conclusion of 
his speech, I rose, under some embarrassment, and made my first 
speech, not so much a reply to his as a general arraignment of 
him and his political course. I charged him with voting in Con- 
gress for a proviso to a resolution in effect censuring General 
Taylor for his conduct in the IVIexlcan War. I also arraigned 
him for voting, in effect, against increasing the pay of private 
volunteer soldiers in the Army in Mexico, from seven to ten 
dollars per month. I pointed out that while he was receiving 
eight dollars per day, and living in ease and luxury as a member 
of Congress at Washington, he was voting against pa^'ing the 
poor volunteer who was fighting our battles in a torrid climate 
as much per month as he was receiving per day. 

But my highest arraignment, the most telling one and the 
most excruciating to Mr. Johnson, Avas his attack on the ad- 
ministration of President Polk and on those in authority under 
him. In a speech made in the last Congress, on the 2d of 
February, 1847, on a proposition made by Mr. Polk to levy 
a tax on tea and coffee, as a war measure, Mr. Johnson opposed 
it, and among other things, said : 

"But, in conclusion, I must be permitted to say, I wish 
to Almighty God that the whole American people could be 
assembled in this city ; that there was some kind of amphitheatre 
constructed, capacious enough to contain the whole voting popu- 
lation of the United States, and that they were convened for 
a short period of time, and the veil that now conceals from their 
view the many abuses could be drawn aside, and they be per- 
mitted to take one calm survey, one full and dispassionate view, 
of all the secret springs of the entire proceedings of things under 
this Government, of all the intriguings of officers in authority 
from the highest to the lowest. I will not say they would lay 
violent hands upon an edifice designed by its founders to be 
so sacred and perfect in all its parts, and tear it into a 
thousand pieces. I will not say they would rush upon it in a 
state of precipitancy with the resistless and devastating fury 
of some mighty tempest; no, I have too much confidence in 


their forbearance to believe so for a moment. But I feel well 
assured of one thing, and that is, they would rip up and tear 
off some of those funguses that have been fixing, and have 
fixed themselves upon the vitals of this government for years 
gone by; they would turn some mighty stream through the 
Augean stable until it was thoroughly cleansed from the abom- 
inable filth that had been preying on the life blood of the 
republic too long." 

In my circular and in my speeches, I said in substance, that 
my competitor ought to know whether these things were true 
or false, for he was there among them, and understood the 
"secret springs of their entire proceedings," and was one of 
them. With a pious, heavy heart, he pours out bitter lamenta- 
tions that "the veil which conceals the many abuses could not 
be drawn aside," and the people be permitted to take one dis- 
passionate view of all "the secret springs of things" under the 
Government, of all "the intriguings of officers in authority from 
the highest to the lowest." His indignation is kindled and swells 
in his bosom at all the evils he sees, and in his high and pure 
emotion he summons the whole American voting population to 
assemble in the capital of the nation to view the scenes he would 
disclose, and he exclaims that but for the people's forbearance 
they would rush upon the sacred edifice "with the devastating 
fury of some mighty tempest, and tear it into a thousand pieces," 
pulling down its grand towers, and walls and pillars, and 
leveling them with the dust! He says that those in authority 
"from the highest to the lowest" are "intriguing," that Is, they 
are scheming or plotting to accomplish things in an under- 
handed and secret manner for their own corrupt purposes and 
not for the public good. He says all the cabinet officers Marcy, 
Bancroft, Buchanan, Walker, Clifford, and your own Cave 
Johnson that the thousands of subordinate officers under them, 
and above all that your own President, your favorite, for whom 
you have so often voted and shouted and thrown up your hats, 
your idol, James K. Polk, is thus engaged in corrupt Intriguing! 

I said further, in substance: "Mr. Johnson says he did not 
mean to include the President in his charge ; that the word 
"from" excludes and leaves him out. I care not how this is. 
If the President is embraced by the words in the charge, then 
he is one of the corrupt intriguers. If he is not included, then 
he is guilty of fostering, protecting, and keeping In office a 


set of men, every one of whom, from the highest to the lowest, 
is engaged in the work of corruption ! What a charge ! What 
a multitude of scoundrels ! All are corrupt, all from the highest 
to the lowest! No man can believe it, except on the authority 
of my competitor ! He says it is true. 

"But he says in explanation, that he is no grammarian, that 
he did not understand the exact import of the language he 
used, that he did not intend to embrace the President in his 
charge. Those who are stupid and credulous enough to believe 
these explanations can do so I do not. But admit the truth 
of his explanation, and what a pitiable and deeply humiliating 
attitude does he occupy.'' He now represents, and is again 
a candidate to represent a proud and an intelligent constituency 
in Congress, and yet he is so ignorant by his own showing, that, 
when he would praise his party, he slanders and defames it! 
Democrats! Can you vote for such a man.? He has insulted 
you by defaming your President before the whole world, and 
by making the most sweeping, universal charge of corruption 
against the administration of Mr. Polk ever made by a man 
out of a madhouse. He has furnished arguments to his enemies 
which everywhere throughout the land are used against him. 

"This unprovoked, this cruel, this terrible, this universal 
charge of corruption against Mr. Polk and his administration, 
against the whole Democratic party, indeed, is unparalleled in 
its spirit and vindictiveness. What was the motive of it.'' Was 
my competitor expecting Democratic opposition, and was he bid- 
ding for the Whig vote of the district.'"' 

These were the substance of the comments, and in many places, 
the very words, with many others not recollected, with which 
Mr. Johnson was arraigned in my canvass. I was a good 
reader, and I read and commented on each charge with em- 
phasis and with audacious boldness. 

From Johnson County we went to Sullivan, where we filled 
three appointments in the country. Monday, July 19th, found 
us in Blountville, the county seat of Sullivan, the most thorough- 
ly Democratic county in the State, with only a handful of Whigs. 
It was Circuit Court day. The people were there a very large 
crowd from all parts of the county. I was a stranger to 
nearly all of them, but they had heard of our canvass and were 
eager to hear us. It was INIr. Johnson's day to speak first. 
I knew that this day was "big" with my fate ; I felt keenly the 


responsibility, but I was getting a little accustomed to speaking 
and to lively contentions. I therefore braced myself up for a su- 
preme effort. 

Mr. Johnson made his usual speech of one hour and a half 
in length, but he was not himself. Perhaps it was because he 
knew there was a widespread disaffection there in reference to 
him. His speech did not awaken any enthusiasm. The people 
listened, but were silent. I made a speech of the same length 
as Mr. Johnson's. While I read extracts from his speech in 
which he denounced the administration, and commented in bold 
terms on it the substance of which in part is given above, but 
not its spirit there was a visible sensation in the crowd. It 
was too evident to escape observation that there was deep in- 
dignation against Mr. Johnson. So high did this feeling rise 
that while I was speaking, and holding up Mr. Johnson in bold 
terms and in a defiant manner to the gaze of the people, one 
Democrat cried out in a loud voice "Give it to him !" and 
many expressed their approval by smiles and laughter. Mr. 
Johnson rejoined in a half hour's speech and I did the same to 
his. The speeches were hot and spirited throughout. I was 
aggressive and frequently on the border-line of the offensive. 
Mr. Johnson on the contrary, was angry and on the defensive. 
My friends were "jubilant" as a gentleman who was present 
now an old man expressed it to me recently. 

While at Blountville I had time to see the condition of the 
Democratic party, and time to think and to form my plans 
for the campaign. The old recognized AVhig leaders of the 
district w^ere in Blountville, in attendance on the court. They 
did not attend the speaking nor come near me. They gave me no 
advice, no encouragement. I was, therefore, left alone to fight 
my own battle. They were honorable gentlemen, and two of 
them at a much later period became my warm friends, and one 
of them solicited a law partnership with me. I had not con- 
sulted them about becoming a candidate. If I were disposed 
to be uncharitable, I might say they did not view with com- 
plaisancy the thought of a young man so suddenly growing into 
prominence and leadership. I will not say this, for they were 
"all honorable men." 

The situation was this : A great many Democrats, especially 
Blair's, McClellan's, and Haynes' friends were displeased with 
Mr. Johnson. Indeed, they never did like him. They did not 


desire his defeat, for a Democratic representative was needed 
in Congress to support Mr. Polk in his war, but they did 
desire his humiliation, by his receiving only a bare majority. 
In a letter to W. G. Brownlow, dated July 18th, from Blount- 
ville, the original of which I have, which was preserved by him, 
and since his death handed to me by his son, Colonel J. B. 
Brownlow, I mapped out the canvass in part as follows: 

"The true policy in this canvass between Johnson and me is 
to conduct it in such a way as not to alarm the Democrats. 
If they become alarmed, they will rally to the support of 
Johnson. If, on the contrary, they think there is no danger, 
and they are not made mad, they will suffer him to fight for 
himself, and will not care much whether he is elected or not. 
Therefore don't abuse him much, do not make the charge that 
he is an infidel, nor boast that I will be elected. The battle 
must be fought secretly. The factions in this district must be 
artfully appealed to and managed. I can manage some of them, 
and my friends must do the rest." 

In a second letter of the 20th to the same person, which is 
also in my possession, I wrote: 

"Johnson and I had a warm time here yesterday. jNIy speech 
took well with the Democrats. They say, 'Lay on, Nancy,' and 
one of them told me while I was speaking to give it to him. He 
spoke out in a loud voice. They all want him punished, and 
several of them told me that they wanted Johnson to beat me 
just one rote. This desire, and it is general, will beget indif- 
ference and neutrality. I direct my friends everywhere to make 
no noise and to let on to the Democrats that there is no chance 
of my election. It will throw them off their guard, and the 
election will go by default. You must adopt this course (in 
your paper). No excitement is the motto. But the Whigs 
must understand it. * * * * I am almost certain, that, 
if my friends play their part right, I can be elected. There 
never has been such a state of things as exists in this country at 
the present. I receive nearly as much attention from the Demo- 
crats as Johnson does. Work in secret!" 

In pursuance of this policy I never boasted on the stump of 
having any chance of being elected, although confident of elec- 
tion, nor consented for Brownlow's paper, the only Whig 
paper in the district, and only a weekly at that, to do so. 
But I commenced a strenuous system of private work, by letters 


and private conferences, which was kept up night and day until 
the election. I rode, I wrote letters, I talked all over the dis- 
trict. How much work I did how many secret conferences 
held with Democrats no man, except myself, will ever know, 
for I shall never tell. 

The relations of Mr. Johnson and myself were formal and 
distant, although outwardly they were friendly. His bitter 
spirit was stirred to its depths by the daring arraignment of 
him I was making every day. His manner was therefore cold 
and haughty, and I returned it in kind. 

I had a good voice, I spoke with ardor, earnestness, en- 
thusiasm, and boldness, such as to fix attention. I hurled my 
charges against my competitor with taunting and almost vindic- 
tive assurance. Mr. Johnson in his speeches, said nothing 
derogatory to my understanding or my honor, but he criticised 
my college manner of speaking. I was slender and stood very 
erect, and therefore he spoke sneeringly of my carriage. It 
was little and contemptible in him, but I suffered him to con- 
tinue it, for I knew he was hurting himself more than he was 
me. But I laid it up in my heart, and returned these things 
with more than interest in other ways. In a word, war existed 
between us in all things, but not open and flagrant. 

Only twice during our canvass, was Mr. Johnson pleasant 
to me. Once on Sunday, in going to Blountville from the 
country where we had stayed all night together, and once in 
traveling together in the night, from Fall Branch to Greene- 
ville our mutual home. On both occasions he was very 
gracious. His motive was obvious. On both these occasions 
he used all his influence and flattery to induce me to withdraw 
from the race. He told me in his gentlest and softest tones that 
I had already made what I had entered the race for reputa- 
tion and that I had better retire while my laurels were still 
green. Finally he told me in order to intimidate me, that 
if I ran on he would disgrace me, by beating me worse than 
he had ever beaten any one of his competitors. I made him no 
answer, for I wished him if he was sincere, to remain of the 
opinion expressed. But young as I was I saw through all his 
tender solicitude for my character. I knew he was scared. 
The idea of the bitter, implacable Andrew Johnson begging 
his competitor to withdraw to save him from disgrace! 

The appointments for speaking were made by Mr. Johnson 


only fifteen in all before I became a candidate. In four of the 
counties we spoke once only in each, and in two of them not 
at the county seat. He had been speaking all the summer. 
Therefore, excepting Sullivan, I had no chance to see, nor to be 
heard by, a large majority of the people. The canvass opened 
July 10th and closed August 4th. 

At Jonesboro, two days before the election, we had a very hot 
time, the discussion being nearer personal than anywhere else. 
The discussions were always animated, spirited, and stirring. 
We had up to that time conducted the discussions on a decent, 
not to say a high, plane. There were no charges other than 
political made by either of us. I had no political record, and 
my private character could not be attacked. Mr. Johnson's 
private character was not bad at that time. If I had been 
disposed and I was far from being so to assail his character, 
I would have had little material for such course. So, while our 
discussions were always hot and exciting, they were never marred 
by vulgarity or personal abuse not a word of it. At Jones- 
boro, besides holding up and exposing his record, I reminded 
the people of his speech in that town, in which he had denounced 
the venerable John Blair revered both for his age and his 
virtues, and the distinguished position he had so long held, as 
a member of Congress and the Jonesboro Democratic leaders, 
as mushroom aristocrats, and had almost defied them in his 
proud haughtiness. That speech was made when he expected 
Mr. Haynes to be his opponent. John Blair and his brothers, 
as well as Mr. Haynes, and a number of prominent Democrats, 
resided in Jonesboro, all of whom, or nearly all, were opposed 
to Mr. Johnson. For this he subjected them to the kind of 
discipline he was in the habit of using on the McClellans and 
Gammons in Sullivan County. This point his denunciation 
of the "Jonesboro ring of aristocrats" aroused all his fire, 
and being too independent to deny the charge and afraid to 
justify it he turned upon me with savage bitterness, for he 
now wanted the votes of the odious ring. While he did not 
assail me personally, he was bitter in manner. In hunting 
around for something to say, he turned to the Mexican War 
which formed a topic of discussion every day, and which I de- 
nounced as both unjust and unconstitutional in its inception, 
yet was in favor of its vigorous prosecution and twitted me 
for not being in the army fighting. I retorted by telling him, 


as he knew full well, that I had volunteered and raised a com- 
pany, and that its organization had been delayed by the inter- 
ference of his tools and underlings until the quota called for 
in the State three regiments, I believe had been made up, 
thirty thousand men having volunteered. I then ask him why 
he was not in the army ; why he had not resigned his seat in 
Congress to raise a regiment and go to Mexico and fight in 
his war, as his fellow members of Congress, Baker and Bissell, 
two Whigs, from Illinois had done. I do not recollect whether 
or not I told him, but the thought was the most natural for the 
occasion, that the difference between $8 a day and $7 a month 
which he wished the poor soldier to get, may have influenced 
his conduct in keeping out of the war. 

Altogether this discussion, from the beginning to its close, 
was red-hot on the very border of the fighting line, and yet 
there was no personal abuse. Brownlow, in his paper of the 
following day, spoke of that discussion, as follows, it being his 
second notice of me, the first being only ten lines long, and 
not complimentary: 

"Messrs. Johnson and Temple, the candidates for Congress, 
spoke here on yesterday at the court house for near five hours, 
the Whig candidate, Mr. Temple, leading off. The large court 
house room was full. Temple did lift the ticks off of Johnson 
at a rate that was really distressing. He showed up his votes 
in Congress his opposition to Polk; and his hatred of the 
Jonesboro leaders. The Jonesboro leaders enjoyed the show- 
ing up. Johnson tried to laugh off the blows of Temple, but 
they got so hot toward the close that Andy got black in the 

"We must say, in justice to Temple, that the Whigs were 
delighted, and had no idea of his ability on the stump till they 
heard him. No man had met Johnson in his district before, 
in our hearing, who has held him as uneasy as Temple did. 
And this we believe the Democracy are free to admit." 

So bold and audacious had I been in my speech at Jonesboro, 
and so much harassed and exasperated was Mr. Johnson that 
he told a friend, and it was repeated to me, that if I acted 
toward him in the same way the next day, he would chastise 
me. Well, I had expected him to attempt that that day, but 
he did not. The next day we were to speak at Braylesville, 
near old W^ashington College, where I was graduated less than 


three years before. It was the day before the election. All 
college exercises were suspended, and the President my warm 
friend and students, all turned out to hear us. The crowd 
was large; my friends were in the majority and full of en- 
thusiasm. I had the closing speech an advantage I highly 
appreciated, especially at that place. I was in high spirits, 
while Mr, Johnson seemed depressed. In my speech, I kept 
my temper perfectly, and yet I was equally as aggressive and 
to some extent more offensive than on former occasions. To 
the extent of my ability, I did not spare ]Mr. Johnson. I was 
greeted with so many signs of appreciation that I was en- 
couraged in my effort. My most worthy friend, Dr. W. M. 
Bovell, laughed immoderately, and shouted out : "Give it to 
him ! Give it to him !" 

Mr. Johnson was very fond of showing off his little learning 
and he always had some scraps of it, in history, or more 
frequently on mythology, which he repeated in solemn pomp, 
at the conclusion of his addresses. One of these was a beautiful 
and pathetic story, and a true one too, but not as he told it, 
in the life of the unfortunate Regulus, a Roman General who 
was captured in Carthage, one of the noblest examples of 
stern Roman patriotism to be found in all history, entitling 
him to be ranked with the elder Brutus, or Cato, which he 
told in his softest, most impressive manner. He had been 
repeating it for several days, but he had the story all wrong, 
and when told truly, it did not fit his point at all. I knew 
all the time he was telling it wrong, but I concluded to wait 
until we got to Washington College, in the presence of the 
professors and students, before exposing him. Sure enough, 
in his stately peroration, he told the Regulus story. In my 
reply, I corrected his history, and showed its total inapplica- 
bility to the point he was making, and then turning to him, and 
pointing my finger at him, I said in the most scornful manner : 
"Now, sir, go and learn history before you presume to teach 
it to an intelligent people." Mr. Johnson seemed to be stunned 
as if by a blow, but he could neither say nor do anything. And 
with this incident the canvass closed, so far as speaking was 
concerned. My friends all went away exulting and rejoicing. 

I would not and could not be so presumptuous as to leave 
the impression on the mind of the reader that I was the equal 
of Mr. Johnson on the stump. How could I have been at the 


age of twenty-seven, with little experience in speaking, while 
he was known to be one of the ablest stump speakers in the 
State ! It is true, I worried him, galled him, and excoriated him 
until he sometimes became desperate, and frequently had the 
advantage of him in popular estimation. But it must be kept 
in mind, in justice to him, that he was at that time weighted 
down by a great load that fatal speech against JMr. Polk's 
administration the specter of which would not "down," conjure 
it ever so sweetly. Day by day his inward spirit cried out: 

"A vaunt ! and quit my sight ! Let the earth hide thee !" 

And still, he had to listen to that speech, which was freezing 
up his very soul, and causing "his two eyes," like "stars," to 
"start from their spheres." He dared not deny it, he was too 
haughty to retract it, he was afraid to justify it; he could only 
plead ignorance, that he was no grammarian ! Oh ! the height 
and depth of his humiliation ! 

It should be stated in explanation of that speech that at the 
time of its delivery, and at the time he was going over the dis- 
trict denouncing McClellan and the Blairs, he expected Landon 
C. Haynes to be his next competitor. The Whigs, after two 
unsuccessful efforts, had despaired of beating ]Mr. Johnson. 
The old, prominent Whig leaders were unwilling to run when 
defeat was certain. Mr. Haynes, after his brilliant word-paint- 
ing canvass of 1844, as a Polk elector, had many friends who 
were pressing his claims, and he was himself anxious to run. 
Everybody expected him to do so. The Whig leaders of 
Hawkins County had promised Mr. Johnson, as it was after- 
ward well understood and believed, that he should have no 
opposition in the Whig party in 1847 ; that is, no Whig com- 
petitor. This accounts in part for the fact that thej"^ turned 
a cold shoulder to me at Blountville and throughout the canvass. 
It was also reported and believed to be true, that in considera- 
tion of this support of Johnson, his friends were to permit a 
Whig to be elected from that county to the Legislature, and 
one was elected by a good majority, though a Democratic 
county, running ahead of Brown, the Whig candidate for Gov- 
ernor, and myself. 

Mr. Johnson's calculations, when he had made that speech, 
under the supposition that Haynes was to be his competitor. 


were wisely made in view of the facts then existing. It was a 
bold bid for the Whig vote of that district, which he would have 
gotten as a general rule, as he got it in his race with Haynes 
four years afterward. While he would have gotten the Whig 
vote generally, he would also have received the solid Democratic 
vote of his own county, Greene, and a large majority of the 
party in Hawkins and Cocke, and a considerable vote in the 
other counties. These would have elected him easily. But 
Haynes declined, after vacillating a long time, probably having 
seen the game that was to be played by Johnson. My becoming 
a candidate disturbed all these plans and calculations and threw 
all into confusion. Johnson had a Whig to face, and the 
specter of his speech, prepared for a Democratic opponent, rose 
up every day to torment him, while the Whig votes he expected 
to secure by it came to me. 

Now, a few words as to myself. I was unmerciful to Mr. 
Johnson because he assumed a haughty air of superiority to- 
ward me. His manner was stern and often discourteous. He 
never spoke a kind word to me nor did a gracious act. He 
Invariably called me his "Juvenile Competitor," uttered with a 
sibilant sound. I determined to punish him and to the extent 
of my ability not to spare him. I knew how he had hacked and 
bullied old Matthew Stevenson and Brookins Campbell, two of 
the gentlest of men and as worthy as ever lived In the State, 
and my spirit arose against such treatment. From a long 
knowledge of INIr. Johnson I knew there was but one way to 
meet him to fight him with his own weapons. I was the first 
person, and excepting Mr. Haynes, the only person, who ever 
fought him in this way. 

When I became a candidate I had no fixed idea of being 
elected. I saw in the race, fun, excitement, training, reputa- 
tion, at least notoriety, with hard knocks, bruises, and scars, 
with a faint chance of success. My young heart leaped at the 
prospect. While I was at Blountville, I became thoroughly 
convinced of my election, If I could overcome the universal 
opinion that there was no chance. To boast, as Johnson was 
doing, and to deny his claim made every day, that he was 
going to be elected by the largest majority of his life, would 
alarm the Democrats, for it must be kept in mind that they 
did not desire defeat, but his punishment by giving him only 


a bare majority. Not to boast, and not to deny the unfounded 
claim of Johnson, was leaving my friends without the stimulus 
of hope. Notwithstanding the difficulties of the non-alarm pol- 
icy, I determined to adopt it. I had no one to consult in 
Blountville in whose judgment I had confidence. The old leaders 
were standing aloof from me. As it was, I Avorked privately 
as few men could have done to overcome the inertia of the 
Whigs, and to convince them that I could be elected. INIy 
labors were incessant night and day, but the time was too short 
and the incredulity of the Whigs too great for one man. I 
convinced very few. Perhaps I alone had full confidence. In 
one of the counties I spent half an hour with its Whig leader, 
my warm personal friend, in laying the facts before him, when 
he remarked: "Oliver, I should rejoice at your election as much 
as any man, but really I can see no chance." That man 
could have set, by a word, twenty leaders of influence, to riding 
over the country the next day, working for me. The result 
was that enough Whigs from that county stayed away from 
the polls to have elected me, or nearly so. 

Johnson and I were the only two men in the district who 
fully understood the condition of things both of us knew that I 
would be elected, if there was a full Whig vote. When he was 
boasting every day that he would disgrace me by an over- 
whelming majority, he knew as well as I did that he was 
politically prevaricating. I think I may say with truthfuhiess 
that I was the only person in the district, except Snapp, Rut- 
ledge, and ^Millard, and one or two other young men in Sullivan 
County, who worked in the earnest confidence of my election. 

Well, Johnson was elected by 314 votes, his usual majority 
being reduced from ten to twelve hundred. Although he had 
won the race, the result was everywhere regarded as my triumph. 
He was mortified, chagrined, and overwhelmed with shame. On 
Friday afternoon, the day after the election, the returns from 
the eastern counties having been received in Greeneville, it was 
believed that I was elected. The people insisted on our making 
our acknowledgments to our friends in little speeches. When 
it came to Mr. Johnson's turn, he shed tears, and almost broke 
down with emotion. The next day the returns came in from 
Hawkins and Coke Counties, which gave the election to Johnson. 
Hawkins was the county where the Whig leaders, for purposes 


of their own, had promised or made a compact with Mr. Johnson 
tliat he should have no Whig opposition. In each of these 
counties the expected Whig majority fell short. In "Sullivan, 
the only county I canvassed thoroughly, even in parts of it, 
where I spent more than a week, and made five speeches, I re- 
ceived the largest vote ever given to a Whig, larger than Gen- 
eral Harrison's, or Jones', or Clay's. 

After the election, the Whigs from nearly every county, 
commenced sending word that if they had dreamed that there 
was "any chance" they could have brought to the polls, of the 
stay-at-home voters, nearly men enough in every county to have 
changed the result. "Too late." They also insisted that I 
should repeat the race two years hence, and that they would 
elect me. Too late. The bird had flown. They had lost 
their only chance. Johnson had learned a lesson, and my com- 
mon sense told me that he would never repeat his error of 1847, 
and he never did. He was as docile and as tractable in the next 
Congress under party leadership as he had formerly been re- 
calcitrant. The result was, he was re-elected, in 1849, over the 
eloquent and accomplished Nathaniel G. Taylor, not by 314 
majority", but by the usual Democratic majority. 

I need not attempt to disguise the fact that this race gave 
me considerable reputation throughout the State a reputation 
entirely disproportioned to any ability or merit of my own. 
My daring arraignment of Mr. Johnson, his vulnerable record, 
the unexpected closeness of the election, together with my youth- 
fulness, gave an unwonted eclat to the result. At no other 
time in his life could Mr. Johnson have been attacked so merci- 
lessly and yet so successfully as then. 

As for myself, not long after this, being offered a favorable 
partnership by the generous William H. Snecd, of Knoxville 
due no doubt to my late race I left the first district, where 
I was born, reared, and educated, and where I had many dear 
friends, and removed to Knoxville, largely, I confess, to get out 
of politics and to avoid another race, which I plainly saw would 
result in defeat. The only chance to defeat j\Ir. Johnson had 
been thrown awa}', not by reason of any objection to me, but 
by the inertia of the Whigs. In that race I might easily have 
been elected by from five hundred to one thousand majority. 
But I can declare truthfully that I never seriously regretted my 


defeat. Even then I feared that an election would prove an 
injury to me. Since then I have never been tempted to seek 
Congressional honors, although many opportunities have oc- 
curred for obtaining them. I never regretted my race, as I can 
trace to it, directly or indirectly, the source of the most im- 
portant honors and successes, however inconsiderable, I have 
attained in life. 


Born in North Carolina in 1809 Removes to Tennessee in 1813 Early 
Education Extensive Reader Studied Law Elected to Legislature, 
1835 In Congress, 1839 Powerful Debater Opinions as to His Abil- 
ity as an Orator Runs Against Johnson for Governorship in 1855 
Contrast of Their Characters Defeated by Johnson In Retirement 
on His Farm A Union Man Until Sumter Then a Secessionist- 
Elected to Confederate Congress Loses All His Property Through 
Failure of Confederacy Died in 18GG. 

The period from 1833 to 1860 was the high noon of greatness 
in Tennessee. There was during that time a perfect constellation 
of glittering stars to be seen in the heavens. At the first-named 
date, Andrew Jackson, that splendid luminary, although fast 
passing from his zenith to his nadir, still held on his brilliant 
course. The venerable Hugh Lawson White, although "hasten- 
ing to his setting," still stood high in the heavens. The elo- 
quent Felix Grundy gave no signs of diminished brightness. 
But while these older men still lingered and held the public eye, 
there appeared above the horizon a younger set of men, little 
less great than those just named, who were destined to shed 
their brilliance upon the State and the nation. Among these 
I mention James K. Polk, John Bell, Ephraim H. Foster, Bailie 
Peyton, Spencer Jarnagin, Cave Johnson, Aaron V. Brown, 
James C. Jones, Gustavus A. Henry, A. O. P. Nicholson, 
Meredith P. Gentry, Emerson Etheridge, William T. Haskell, 
Andrew Johnson, Isham G. Harris, Thomas A. R. Nelson, 
William T. Senter, John Netherland, Landon C. Haynes, and 
Horace Maynard. 

Of these distinguished men Meredith P. Gentry was one of 
the greatest and perhaps the most striking. He was born in 
1809, in North Carolina, and was therefore one year younger 
than Andrew Johnson. In 1813 his father, who was a wealthy 
planter, moved to Tennessee, and settled in Williamson County, 
his son being then four years of age. Young Gentry completed 
his academic education at the age of fourteen, never having 
had the advantage of a college course. After that time, until 
he was twenty, he improved his mind while working on his 



father's farm by an extensive reading of history, poetry, and 
general Hterature. His memory was retentive, and it never lost 
what it had acquired. 

Shortly after he came to the years of manhood, he delivered 
a fourth of July address, which was greatly admired and gave 
promise of his future renown. He studied law, I believe, but 
it seems he gave it up. From 1835 to 1839, he was a promi- 
nent member of the Legislature. A committee composed of 
jNIr. Gentry, Mr. Grundy, and Mr. Topp submitted to the 
Legislature in 1835 an exhaustive report in favor of the State's 
lending its aid, by the issuance of bonds, to a system of mac- 
adam roads. Under an act passed in conformity with that 
report, JNliddle Tennessee became dotted over with macadamized 
roads, and several millions of bonds were issued for that pur- 
pose, which now constitute, directly or indirectly, a part of the 
public debt of the State. East Tennessee never availed itself 
of the liberal terms of that act, not a single mile of road having 
been built under it. 

Li 1839 Mr. Gentry was elected a member of Congress, and 
with the exception of one term, when he declined being a candi- 
date, he remained in Congress until 1853 ^twelve years. He 
soon made his debut in Congress. His first speech was in 
favor of receiving not granting the prayer of petitions from 
the North for the abolishment of slavery in the District of 
Columbia. This speech attracted universal attention. He was 
no abolitionist, being a large slave holder himself, but he insisted 
that to petition Congress was a constitutional right on the 
part of the citizen, which could not be denied. His second 
speech Avas on the subject of securing the freedom of elections, 
and the restriction of executive patronage. This was one of 
the ablest speeches of that Congress, and was widely read and 
distributed. At this time he was only thirty years of age. 

During his subsequent terms Mr. Gentry became one of the 
most powerful debaters and distinguished orators In the lower 
house of congress. Mr. Alexander H. Stephens said of him that 
very few members "possessed so much political knowledge, or 
were so ready in debate." He further said that his eulogy on 
jNIr. Clay, though impromptu, was "apt, powerful, and pathetic." 
In his diary, John Quincy Adams, a member of the House 
several years with INIr. Gentry, pronounced him the finest orator 
of that body. A distinguished member of Congress from Penn- 


sylvania, who served with him, and who often heard Mr. Clay, 
said that he (Mr. Gentry) was the only man he had ever heard 
who had a better voice for speaking than Mr. Clay. Having 
heard both Mr. Clay and Mr. Gentry, the latter several times, 
I cannot concur fully in this opinion. So far as I am aware, 
the opinion for seventy-five years has been well nigh universal 
that no man's voice in this country was so musical, so fascinat- 
ing, so magnificent as Mr. Clay's. 

Mr. Gentry unquestionably had a very grand and a very 
extraordinary voice. It was clear, ringing, and far-sounding, 
like the bugle's thrilling notes, and at the same time it was deep, 
musical, and powerful. In his ordinary mood, it could be 
heard distinctly at a great distance. He spoke with the same 
ease both to himself and his hearers that characterized Mr. Clay, 
and in both speakers in the "very torrent, tempest, and whirl- 
wind of their passions," as Hamlet advised his players, they 
manifested a "temperance that gave it smoothness." But to 
my ear, the indefinable, the bewitching, the flute-like music of 
Mr. Clay's voice surpassed that of Mr. Gentry's. 

Mr. Gentry was a phenomenal man nearly every way. His 
person was majestic, though not over 5 feet and 11 inches high. 
It was robust, manly, dignified, and highly impressive. Anyone 
beholding him would have been struck with his proud, kingly 
bearing. He had a grand, stately stride, as if above fear, and 
conscious of his own dignity and worth. His face, to my mind, 
was handsome and attractive, having a most benignant expres- 
sion, and being suffused with the ruddy glow of good health and 
high living. INIr. A. S. Colyer, in an article a short time ago, 
said of him that he always regarded him as the most accom- 
plished orator in Tennessee. "He was the most comely man 
I have ever seen on the platform. * * * His voice was 
music * * * jjis head was intellectual and his features 
regular and nicely chiseled into classical forms. In quickness 
of apprehension, and in the power of generalization, his mind 
was nearly of the first order. He needed not to study a diffi- 
cult subject. His intellect mastered and illumined it at first 
sight. In the expression of his ideas, he was wonderfully lucid, 
forcible, and striking. They were sharp cut, incisive, glittering; 
they were direct, pointed, and unambiguous, and came from 
his mind with the force of a ball projected by some powerful 
agency. He wore his opinions and his principles as he wore his 


face uncovered. In the avowal of his opinion he was frank 
and candid, and open as the day. He would have scorned as 
cowardly and dishonorable any concealment or any equivoca- 
tion. No public man of his time was so bold and independent. 
He cared infinitely more for his honor and his self-respect than 
for promotion, or place, or popular applause. Withal, there was 
an honesty, a heartiness, a whole-soulness, a don't-care inde- 
pendence in his speaking that won all hearts. As we shall see 
presently, when he proudly said in his last speech in Congress, 
"I defy you all," he only provoked sympathetic laughter. He 
was so honest and good-natured that the most daring expres- 
sions gave no offense. 

As an illustration. In 1849-50, W. G. Brownlow was press- 
ing the claims of two or three friends on the new administration, 
for appointment to offices, through Senator Bell. Mr. Bell was 
not succeeding as well as Mr. Brownlow wished. The latter 
became a little impatient at the apparent indifference or slow- 
ness of his old friend, and wrote him a sharp letter on the sub- 
ject, and probably wrote an editorial in his paper complain- 
ing of his conduct. Mr. Bell showed this letter to Mr. Gentry, 
who knew of the efforts he was making, and the difficulty in the 
way of procuring the offices for the friends of Mr. Brownlow. 
Thereupon he sat down and wrote Mr. Brownlow explaining 
these difficulties, and averring that Mr. Bell was doing all that 
any human being could do, and wound up by saying: "Now 
if I were in Mr. Bell's place, I would write to you and tell 
you to go to h 1." Mr. Brownlow showed the letter to friends 
and only laughed heartily at it. 

As above intimated, Mr. Gentry's power of generalization 
showed his masterly intellect. He could annihilate a labored 
piece of casuistry by a single sentence, or blast an argument 
by a sarcasm, or a witticism. Thus Mr. Johnson once arraigned 
him for voting while in Congress, to pay the hotel bill of the cele- 
brated Louis Kossuth, the great Hungarian exile, while in Wash- 
ington as the invited guest of the nation, although he himself 
had voted with Gentry in inviting him there. In reply Mr. 
Gentry indignantly turned upon Mr. Johnson, and with con- 
temptuous scorn, explained: "Is this Tennessee hospitality to 
invite a man to your house to stay a few days, and then tell 
him when he is leaving, 'Sir, I want you to foot your bill; 
you must pay for the liquor you have been drinking'.'"' 


He could gather up and throw into the form of an aphorism 
a whole argument in a case, embodying its very essence and 
spirit. This was well-nigh genius. Mr. Calhoun possessed this 
faculty in a high degree. But Mr. Calhoun was a scholar and 
a student all his life ; Mr. Gentry was never a student, nor had 
he high scholarship. 

Mr. Gentry was generally considered an eloquent man. In 
the sense in which Haskell, Henry, Haynes, N. G. Taylor, and 
many other Tennessee orators were considered eloquent, Mr. 
Gentry had no high claim to such a distinction. He was not 
florid, much less turgid in speech; he used but few flowers of 
rhetoric; he did not turn his imagination loose to roam at 
will through the pleasant fields of fiction. There were no 
brilliant coruscations of fancy ; there were, however, of thought 
and genius dazzling and startling by their boldness. But in 
the sense in which Webster and Clay were eloquent, and Mr. 
Calhoun sometimes so (as Mr. Benton says), Mr. Gentry de- 
serv'es to be ranked very high as a great orator. In the same 
category may be ranked the illustrious Chief Justice Marshall, 
who was said by one of his contemporaries, I believe Mr. 
Madison, to have been the most eloquent man in his speeches he 
had ever heard. Of the three great men Webster, Clay, and Cal- 
houn contrary to what is the popular opinion, especially of 
Mr. Clay, Mr. Webster was by far the most ornate, and often 
indeed florid, in his style and diction. Many of his speeches, 
or parts of them, were highly embellished with beautiful pearls 
of rhetoric, and all of them were more or less so. Some of 
them were gorgeous with beautiful imagery. He clothed his 
magnificent thoughts in the rich drapery of elegant classical 
learning. But these were but the accessories, used in the em- 
bellishment of the great thoughts he uttered. Mr. Calhoun's 
speeches were never adorned in this way. They were expressed 
in a simple, terse, compact, crystallized form, always in aid 
of and in subordination to the most rigid reasoning. Mr. Clay 
was always ardent, fervid, glowing and impassioned and elo- 
quent in manner, but he seldom ventured in his senatorial 
speeches into the higher regions of imaginative oratory, so 
common with Mr. Webster. And from the fragments of the 
speeches of Alexander Hamilton which remain the greatest 
genius of the Revolutionary epoch, and perhaps of any epoch 
in our history, and indeed, in the opinion of the celebrated 


Talleyrand, the greatest of the age in which he lived we may 
class him as an orator in this respect more after the style of 
Mr. Calhoun than that of Mr. Webster. 

The eloquence of all these great men consisted in the happy 
and vivid illumination of questions of government by the light 
shed upon them by their great intellects, expressed in the clearest, 
and choicest words, and in the most earnest, natural and fasci- 
nating manner. It was as the light of the X-ray poured upon 
these questions. In this sense Mr. Gentry Avas an eloquent 
man. He was gifted with the power of striking thought, 
vigorous expression, felicity of language, earnestness of man- 
ner and conviction, and with a voice and manner in the highest 
degree attractive and dramatic. Running through it all, there 
was the evidence of high and noble purpose. When seen in 
one of his highest efforts the minds of men would involuntarily 
say, "Behold, what a man !" His speech flowed in a deep, rapid, 
unceasing silvery current. He was always grand in manner 
and sometimes when strong emotions stirred him, he was as 
an irresistible tempest. 

If the forcible presentation of great ideas in vigorous and 
lucid terms; in a manner earnest, fervid, and flowing; with a 
voice of surpassing beauty ; and with a mind all on fire with his 
subject, if these constituted eloquence, Mr. Gentry was cer- 
tainly an eloquent man. 

But after all, it was not his gifts intellectually and physically, 
nor his graces of speech, nor his grand manner, but the great 
soul of honor within him that marked the difference between 
him and most other men, and made him what he was an ideal. 
No earthly consideration not even to obtain the presidencj'^ 
would or could have induced him to do a little, a mean, or a 
dishonorable act. Thus, in his canvass for Governor with An- 
drew Johnson, in 1855, he suffered his competitor to go all 
over the State "nagging" him with low innuendoes, without 
taking any notice of them, except contemptuous silence. When 
urged to retaliate, he said with lofty pride: "I know the rules 
of honorable debate among gentlemen, and my sense of self- 
respect forbids me to violate them, even if my competitor does 
do so. I cannot have a wrangle every day on the stump with 
my competitor, if the result is the loss of my election." And 
he adhered to that high ideal to the close of the canvass, never 


doing or saying anjlhing that would not pass curitnt in the 
highest court of chivalry. 

Indeed Mr. Gentry dwelt in the pure atmosphere of honor and 
truth and noble purpose on the very mountain tops, where the 
murky and miasmatic vapors of envy, slander, falsehood, and 
littleness never ascended, and where the vision swept the whole 
boundless horizon. 

In 1852 Mr. Gentry arose in his seat in Congress and de- 
livered one of his characteristically bold speeches, in which he 
announced his purpose of not supporting General Scott for the 
presidency in the event of his nomination by the approaching 
Whig national convention. He was an ardent old-line Whig, a 
follower of INIr. Clay, and a friend of John Bell. He had fol- 
lowed the leadership of Mr. Clay in 1850 in support of his 
compromise measures, and w^as a devoted friend of the Union. 
He feared that General Scott was not in good faith a friend 
of those measures, and charged that he was under the influence 
of Mr. Seward, and that if nominated he would owe his nomi- 
nation to him. He charged that General Scott had permitted 
"Mr. Seward to seize him and wueld him as a warrior wuelds 
his battle-ax, to cleave down into the dust Fillmore and W^ebster, 
and all the patriots of the North who sustained him." 

Mr. Gentry went on to say : 

"Any gentleman who dreams that any Southern State will 
cast its vote for General Scott in the next presidential election, 
dreams, in my opinion, a dream that will never be realized. 

"I suppose for this I am to be a proscribed character, an 
excommunicated Whig. Well, gentlemen, I defy you all. 
[Laughter.] I only insist that no man shall denounce me 
until he can show a better Whig character in the past than I 
can. Observe this condition and I am willing for you to say 
what you please. I acknowledge to a proper extent allegiance 
to the party. But I owe a higher allegiance to my country 
than any party can impose. I should consider myself a traitor, 
recreant to all the interests of those who honored me with their 
confidence in sending me here, if I would for a moment co- 
operate in producing such a result as I have described. W^hat 
shall I do? Why, I am very much troubled about it. It is 
a painful idea to contemplate. It is exceedingly painful for a 
man to stand as I stand, and who has stood as I have stood, 
to be separated from his party, and to be brought in antagon- 


ism with those with whom he has associated; and therefore 
I have been recurring to my early reading of poetry to find 
some consolation, and I have determined to adopt the advice 
Cato gave to his son : 

" 'My son, thou oft hast seen 
Thy sire engaged in a corrupted State 
Wrestling with vice and faction ; now thou seest me 
Spent, overpowered, despairing of success ; 
Let me advise thee to retreat betimes 
To thy paternal seat, the Sabine field, 
Where the great Censor toiled with his own hands, 
And all our frugal ancestors were blest 
In humble virtues and a rural life. 
There live retired and pray for the peace of Rome ; 
Content thyself to be obscurely good. 
When vice prevails, and impious men bear away, 
The post of honor is the private station.' 

"I will go home. [Laughter.] In a sequestered valley in 
the State of Tennessee, there is a smiling farm, with bubbling 
fountains, covered with rich pasturage and fat flocks, and all 
that is needful for the occupation and enjoyment of a man of 
uncorrupted tastes. I will go there and pray for 'Rome.' " 

The country was startled at this speech. The Whigs were 
confounded. His own friends in Tennessee, who loved him with 
warmest devotion, were overwhelmed with mingled sorrow and 
surprise. However, unlike some other prominent Tennessee 
Whigs, Mr. Gentry neither supported Pierce, nor took any ac- 
tive part in opposition to General Scott. He quietly cast his 
vote for Mr. Webster. Like the great Achilles, he now retired 
to his tent to brood over his imaginary wrongs, while the 
Trojans and the offended gods, as the great poet tells us, 
slaughtered the Greeks. Thus for two years this brilliant man 
remained in self-appointed retirement, on his magnificent blue- 
grass farm in Tennessee. But in 1855, when there was a demand 
for the greatest leader in the Whig party, in response to an 
almost universal call, he came forth from his retreat, and once 
more became the idolized leader of it. He was nominated for 
Governor of the State by the Whigs, now calling themselves the 
American, but popularly called the Know-Nothing party. An- 
drew Johnson, then Governor, was the Democratic candidate. 
The contest was exceedingly bitter on the part of Mr. Johnson, 
as well as on the part of the people; it was indeed malignant 
and furious; but Mr. Gentry in the presence of this raging 


sea of wild and angry passion, everywhere in his speeches 
preserved a dignified self-respect and a grand equipoise in bear- 
ing. Neither by words nor acts did he do anything that he 
could not have answered for before the august tribunal of 
history. His speeches were masterpieces of argument and dig- 
nified eloquence, occasionally enlivened by humor and the most 
refined but withering sarcasm. 

Of his power, the following illustration may be given : 
Mr. Johnson on one occasion, and possibly on more than one, 
twitted him with having ceased "praying for Rome," and having 
left his retirement on his "Sabine farm," and come forth in 
search of office. Mr. Gentry showed in reply that Mr. Johnson 
had been a candidate for office many more times than he; that 
so anxious had he (Johnson) been to be a candidate, that two 
years before, he had cheated Andrew Ewing, who was the choice 
of the party, out of the nomination for Governor and had 
forced himself on his party. And as for himself he had not 
announced himself a candidate until it became manifest, by pub- 
lic meetings and the press, that a majority of the people de- 
sired it. He told the following anecdote illustrative of the 
reason why he was not then on his farm praying for the good 
of his country: A fearful drought once afflicted Spain. For 
a whole summer the earth was parched up with the heat without 
one drop of rain ; the streams dried up, the cattle were dying, 
and many of the people also were perishing. Then a body 
of Catholics, headed by a devout priest, traveled over the 
country praying for rain. One day they came to a field par- 
ticularly needing rain. The priest looked at it a moment, and 
then raised his hands and closed his eyes, but said nothing. 
Opening his eyes he again carefully surveyed the field and again 
closed them and raised his hands, but said nothing. For the 
third time he carefully surveyed the field and then said: "Breth- 
ren, praying will do no good for soil so cursed and blighted as 
this has been. This field must have Manure." 

Mr. Gentry with wonderful humor, said : "Tennessee does not 
need prayers. There is a curse resting on the State which has 
marred its fair face, and parched and dried up its prosperity. 
I have come forth from my retirement and my prayers to help 
remove this curse. This curse is Andrew Johnson," As Mr. 
Gentry made the application, my informant, who was present, 
and a distinguished Johnson Democrat, says it was the most 


powerfully dianuitic piece of orator^', us well us the most 
withering he hud ever heurd from the lips of u mun. 

INIr. Johnson was elected and Mr. Gentry defeated. In an- 
other place, I have described this canvass, and discussed Mr. 
Gentry and Mr. Johnson in full, and cannot therefore go into 
these matters now\ 

After the defeat of Mr. Gentry in 1855, he retired to his farm, 
where he lived a quiet life until 1861, though still comparatively 
young. He loved his ease. If not an indolent man, he was 
certainly far from being a pushing, ambitious one. He had 
none of the restless ambition which characterized Mr. Johnson. 
If he had been inspired with the lutter's vaulting love of power, 
and endowed with temperate and industrious habits, his fame 
would have filled and echoed throughout the land. But he was 
unfortunately addicted to the excessive use of liquor a habit 
so often the companion of genius. In my time I have seen the 
lives of the four most brilliant and gifted men in the State 
marred, and their brightness obscured, and that of at least 
three of them blasted by this fatul hubit ; and two of them 
cut off in the full meridian of their glory as if by an untimely 
"killing" frost. But notwithstanding the habits of Mr. Gentry, 
men loved him with something akin to idolatry. He was so 
grand, so noble, so magnanimous in bearing, so true and gener- 
ous in action, so bright and genial in his life, so pure and 
transparent in purpose and lofty in aim, and so dazzling in 
speech and conversation that men could not but love 

"Where every god did seem to set his seal 
To give the world assurance of a man." 

When the Civil War came on, j\Ir. Gentry, in common with 
Mr. Bell, and the old Whig leaders of the State, was a Union 
man. He left his retirement and made a few speeches, two or 
three perhaps, in favor of the Union, and in opposition to the 
Harris movement. But when Fort Sumter was fired on, con- 
trary to all reason, like Mr. Bell and other INIiddle Tennessee 
leaders, he plunged into the raging current of secession and 
drifted off into the sea of blood. Afterward Mr. Gentry be- 
came a candidate for the Confederate Congress, was elected, 
and served as a member for one term. He made but one speech 
in Congress, and that was in opposition to enforcing the con- 
script law in East Tennessee. On account of ill health he broke 


down before finishing it. He urged that men who were in favor 
of the cause would volunteer, that those whose hearts were not 
in it Avould not fight. He recalled how Tennessee had earned 
the title of the "Volunteer State," by the conduct of her sons 
ever since the days of the Revolution, and that they needed no 
conscription to make them do their duty if their hearts were 
in the cause. This, his only speech, as one of his colleagues 
said, showed that he was the great orator of the Confederate 

From the testimony of his intimate friends who are yet alive, 
and who knew his thoughts and feelings perfectly, it can be 
safely affirmed that the heart of Mr. Gentry was never on the 
side of secession. His judgment, too, condemned it as an act of 
supreme folly. When it first started, he warned his neighbors 
that it would be disastrous to the South, and could in no con- 
ceivable manner benefit anybody. After the war he said to 
an old and ardent admirer: '"I sympathize with my neighbors 
and kindred who were in the Confederate army; I always de- 
plored secession, I knew it was no remedy for any real or 
imaginary grievance. I always felt that secession would result 
in evil, and only evil, to the South. The war ended as I antici- 
pated it would from the beginning, but after I espoused the 
cause, I did all I could for it. * * * I sympathized with 
my neighbors and kindred who Avere in the Confederate army." 
These words reveal the cause of the strength of secession. Sym- 
pathy with friends and kindred became the bond that united 
the South. Tens of thousands of men who had no heart for 
secession, did have a heart for their neighbors and kindred. 
This almost universal fellowship and sympathy drew men to- 
gether in behalf of a cause which one-half of them disapproved. 
"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin." 

Who shall condemn the feeling, so connncndable, and, under 
the circumstances, so sublime.'* 

The celebrated Henry Watterson in February, 1894-, de- 
livered a lecture in Washington to an immense crowd. Among 
other things he said that the brutalities which he had seen when 
a child inflicted on Southern plantations upon the negroes, had 
given him a horror of slavery, and that he loved the Union and 
was opposed to secession. He said in substance: "You will 
naturally ask why I joined the rebellion, which was started to 
perpetuate slavery. I can only reply in the words of Meredith 


P. Gentry, of Tennessee, who was long a member of Congress 
from that State, and the greatest orator of his generation in 
Congress. After Gentry had served in the Confederate Con- 
gress, General Rousseau, of the Union army, while his troops 
occupied the county in which Gentry resided, dined with 
him one day. Gentry said he had always loved the Union, 
never believed that a State had a right to secede, never 
believed that secession would be otherwise than ruinous to the 
South, never believed that it could be a remedy for any 
evil, either real or imaginary, but, said Gentry, 'a d d old 
worm-eaten, rickety, stern-wheel boat. Secession, came along, 
and, contrary to my feelings and warnings, my friends, neigh- 
bors, and kinsmen, all rushed pell-mell aboard. I looked around, 
and saw myself alone on the bank of the stream, and they 
were pulling in the gang plank. I shouted to the captain: 
"Hold on! Hold on! I'll get aboard too, and we'll all go to 
hell together." ' 

On one occasion a crowd of original secessionists surrounded 
Mr. Gentry, and asked him if the States could not peaceably 
secede. He replied with that lofty eloquence and power of 
condensation so peculiar to him: "Peaceable secession! My 
God, gentlemen! Do you think this Union can be peaceably 
dissolved? No rivers of blood will flow, but seas incarnadine 
will mark and eternize the mighty conflict." This awful 
prophecy was uttered before a gun had been fired. 

Mr. Gentry was not a party leader. Perhaps he did not wish 
to be. Certainly his honesty, his independence, his habits and 
thoughts did not qualify him for leadership. Besides, he was 
too indolent, he loved his ease and his pleasures too much for 
such a position. 

During the war, in a moment of folly, he sold his fine farm, 
in which he had only a life estate, and received in payment 
Confederate notes and bonds. When the Confederacy went to 
pieces, both he and his children were left impoverished. He 
was afterward advised by his old friend Dr. John W. Richard- 
son, the father of James D. Richardson, the present distin- 
guished Member of Congress from Gentry's old district, that, 
as the consideration given for the land was Confederate money, 
and his children were minors, he could recover it back, under the 
recent decisions of the courts of the State. Gentry proudly 
straightened himself up and said: "I staked my fortune on 


the losing card, and we will starve before we will plead the 
baby act, or take advantage of a technicality in law." He lived 
only a short time after this, dying in 1866. But he still lives 
in the hearts of his countless friends. Union men and seces- 
sionists alike. 

Mr. Gentry was one of the few Southern men who was not 
pardoned by President Johnson, and who would not ask for a 
pardon. This did not arise from any hatred of the Govern- 
ment, for he never hated it, but his proud spirit would not 
stoop to ask for any favor at the hands of a man for whom 
he had so much contempt as he had for Andrew Johnson. As 
one of his admirers stated it, "Gentry would have been cruci- 
fied rather than ask a pardon of Andrew Johnson." 

Perhaps in one or two grand qualities, other men in the State 
equaled, possibly in some excelled Mr. Gentry ; Foster, Peyton, 
and Nelson were his equals in courage ; Henry his peer or above 
him in elegant accomplishment ; Haskell his superior in brilliant 
rhetoric; and Bell and Jarnagin in logical analysis and far- 
seeing statesmanship. But in Gentry there was a combination 
of grand qualities, with no great defects, seldom united in one 
man, and certainly not in any of these distinguished men. All 
in all, he was the grandest and the noblest, and by nature one 
of the greatest, if not the very greatest, excepting Andrew 
Jackson, of Tennessee's distinguished men. The greatest Ro- 
man said, "I am always Caesar." So, too, he was always the 
same proud, generous, magnanimous Gentry. 


Joues' Limited Education In Legislature, 1839 Nominated for Governor 
by Whigs in 1841 at Age of Thirty-two His Personality His Oppo- 
nent, Polli, Highly Educated and an Experienced Politician Polk Not 
a Great Orator Jones Not a Buffoon His Debates with Polk Polk's 
Personality Polk's Secret Trip to East Tennessee Discovered by 
Jones Jones' Stinging Reproaches Jones' Election Jones in United 
States Senate, 1851 Votes to Repeal Missouri Compromise Becomes 
a Democrat Polk's Nomination for Presidency A Strict Party Man 
His Election. 

This sketch was written in response to a letter from a friend 
which contained the following paragraph: 

"I hope 3^ou will now tell us all you can about Governor 
James C. Jones. He is one character in Tennessee politics I 
can't understand. * * * How was it possible, having little 
education and no experience as a public speaker, for him to 
meet and cope with such a man as Polk, whose knowledge of 
public affairs must have been up to that of Jim Blaine in his 

Now, here is a question that has long puzzled the politicians 
of Tennessee, and one as to which perhaps no large number of 
them would give the same answer. The impression seems to be 
gaining ground at this day, among the younger generation of 
men, that Jones' triumph over Polk was owing to what may be 
summed up in one word his buffoonery. There are other 
equally objectionable qualities attributed to him, but this term 
will probably convey the general idea. With all deference I can- 
not concur in this opinion. 

I heard Polk speak once or twice in 1839; I heard both Polk 
and Jones speak three or four times in their joint discussions 
in 1841 and 1843; and I heard Jones several times afterward. 
I therefore became tolerably familiar with their style of speak- 
First, briefly, as to the history, appearance and character- 
istics of Jones. He was just thirty-two years of age in 1841, 
when he was first put forward as a candidate for Governor. He 
>vas a farmer, wuth limited education, never having been to 
college a dav, so far as I know. In 1839 he was a member 


of the Legislature of Tennessee. His first speech that attracted 
attention was made in Nashville in 1840, at a meeting ratifying 
the nomination of Harrison for the presidency. In the suc- 
ceeding canvass he was one of the electors on the Harrison 
ticket. And in 1841 he was nominated for Governor by the 
Whig party, as the competitor of James K. Polk, the most 
adroit and successful stump speaker, as ]\Ir. Phelan says, in 
the southwest. 

Mr. Jones was 6 feet 2 inches high and weighed 125 pounds. 
He was not, as supposed by some, a "gangling, gawky," loose- 
jointed man, swaying like a reed in the wind. On the contrary, 
he was straight, round and erect in body, and elastic in move- 
ment. "He walked with a precise, military step," says one who 
has described him. In a word he had the physical form for the 
grandest and most effective oratory, such as was possessed by 
^Ir. Clay, ]Mr. Calhoun, and in the most marvelous degree by 
Tennessee's greatest orator, that prodigy of genius and bril- 
lianc}', William T. Haskell. Jones' complexion was swarthy, 
which gave him a peculiar and decidedly distinguished look. He 
was dignified in bearing, and always dressed like a gentleman. 
In conversation he was sociable and genial. But his voice was 
his organ of consummate poAver. It was deep, solemn, melodious, 
flexible and of the widest compass, not musical like Mr. Clay's, 
not of the clarion ring of Gentry's, not like the shrill piercing 
notes of Haskell, but always charming, delightful, high sound- 
ing, and even flowing. But before I heard I\Ir. Jones, or knew 
much about him, knowing the power of Mr. Polk, I was uneasy 
about the result of a joint discussion between them, but the 
moment I heard his solemn and impressive voice in his open- 
ing remarks, in tender allusion to the death of one of his 
children, I was reassured and all fear of the result was forever 

Let the reader bear in mind that I am not now considering 
Jones as a statesman, but as a popular stump speaker, and 
with reference to his races with Polk. And let it be kept in mind 
also who and what his competitor was. INIr. Polk was a gradu- 
ate with the highest honors of Chapel Hill; he had been in 
Congress fourteen years, and twice Speaker of the House, as 
well as Governor of the State for two years. Everywhere his 
high ability was acknowledged. In Tennessee he stood in the 
same class with Grundy, White and Bell. Being a diligent 


student, his information on all political topics was very great. 
As a debater and stump speaker he was considered, after his 
memorable canvass of 1839, the foremost man in Tennessee. He 
had wit and humor, the power of mimicry and ridicule, and the 
art of telling anecdotes all at his command, as well as the most 
effective oratory. With these he had cunning, subtlety, in- 
genuity, and sophistrv, which could make "the worse appear the 
better reason." He had defeated Governor Newton Cannon in 
1839 for Governor by three thousand maiority, thus revolu- 
tionizing the State. In his canvass with Cannon he ridiculed 
his competitor until even the latter's enemies felt sorry for him. 
He told anecdotes, laughed at him, mimicked his manner of 
speaking, perverted the facts and finally drove him from the 

I do not say that Polk was a great orator. In the highest 
sense he was not. He had no imagination, without which to 
some extent the highest results of oratory cannot be achieved. 
But I do say he was a consummate debater, pleasing and en- 
tertaining in a marked degree, and capable of holding an 
audience spell-bound for three or four hours at a time, as he 
did in 1839. He discussed questions with the mental grasp 
of a statesman, and with a manner that commanded and held 
the attention, not infrequently, however, with unfairness and al- 
ways with the bitterness of a partisan. He repeated all the 
filthy and false charges then so common against the Whig 
party. He dwelt upon the slanderous charge against Mr. Clay, 
of "bargain, intrigue, and corruption," in the presidential elec- 
tion of 1824. 

Jones in his speeches not only bore himself with a confident, 
masterly air, but he filled his followers with the same feeling. 
They were happy, buoyant, enthusiastic. While the speaking 
was going on they laughed and shouted and then went away full 
of joy and exultation. Mr. Polk had made such splendid 
speeches in his brilliant canvass in 1839, so masterful and over- 
whelming were they, so grandly and triumphantly had he swept 
over the State, that he confounded the Whigs, and carried dis- 
may into their minds. So confident and supreme had he been 
in manner when he swooped down on his enemies, that they 
dreaded him, and fled from him as the birds flee when the falcon 
is abroad. It was therefore with a feeling of timidity and 
defeat, already in their hearts, that they ventured out at first 


to the discussions between the all-conquering Polk and the un- 
known Jones. They expected him to win victories again, as 
he had always done over every opposer. 

Now, I do not wish to be understood as saying that Mr. 
Polk did not in the canvass of 1841-43 make able, yes, sur- 
passingly able speeches. Nor do I mean to say that Mr. Jones' 
speeches were equal to his in breadth and depth and states- 
manship, nor that Jones always gained what may be termed 
overwhelming victories. These battles between them were al- 
ways desperately fought, with enough ability, ingenuity, and 
effective oratory to give each side in the early canvass reason 
for claiming the victory. But very soon the impression pro- 
duced on men's minds was that Jones had the advantage of 
Polk, and this impression grew until finally it became general. 
The discomfiture of Polk at last was evident in the countenance 
of his warmest friends. They did not boast as of old, they 
were not filled with boundless enthusiasm as they once were, 
they did not burst the very heavens with shouts and yells, as 
they did in 1839, when Polk was warming them up by portray- 
ing the Whigs in his most lively colors, nor did they go almost 
into convulsions of laughter, with tears streaming down their 
cheeks, as they did when Polk mimicked good old Newton 
Cannon and Bailie Peyton two years before. 

The fact that Jones was daily gaining the advantage In 
popular estimation was manifest, by the additional fact that 
Mr. Polk was becoming Irritable, that he was always complain- 
ing, that he was mad indeed. His doleful complaints, with the 
absence of the exuberant flow of spirits seen In 1839, told as 
plainly as an outburst of walling could have done the bitter 
anguish he felt at his daily defeats. His party also were 
greatly depressed throughout the State. After the debates were 
over, his friends wore long, solemn faces, as though they had 
just returned from the funeral of a dear friend. They were 
peevish and out of humor. An incident is related by Phelan, 
the historian, no friend of Jones, of a man from Sommerville 
who was naturally good-tempered, and who on returning from 
one of these discussions, was asked what Polk had said. He 
answered fiercely, "Polk made an ass of himself, talking sense 
to a lot of d d fools!" "And Jones?" "Jones Jones! I 
tfc don't know what Jones said ! No more does anybody else. I 
SSLknow this much. If I were Mr. Polk I would not allow anyone 


to malce a laughing stock of me." In addition to the sneers of 
his political enemies, the Democratic newspapers through the 
State were filled were boiling over with articles abusive of, 
and most derogatory to, the talents and conduct of Jones. 

In the meantime, with the most placid temper and equanimity, 
Jones went on in his triumphant career, daily gaining victories 
before vast assemblies, such as had never been seen in the State, 
except during the ever memorable canvass of Ephraim H. 
Foster in 1840. The truth is, his speaking career was mar- 
velous. He kindled in his followers a boundless enthusiam, 
stirring the very depths of their souls with a sublime confidence, 
courage, hope. He at all times seemed in air and bearing an 
invincible conqueror. He laughed at the piteous complainings 
of Mr. Polk, and aggravated him to still greater display of 
irritability and peevishness. 

This was the man that Jones, the farmer, the unknown, the 
comparatively inexperienced, was to meet in debate and over- 
come, or be himself destroyed. And when I say that in two of 
the most memorable and protracted canvasses ever conducted in 
the United States Jones did most signally overcome and triumph 
over his redoubtable opponent, I but reaffirm what was then 
the opinion of a majority of the people of the State and now 
of all. 

Jones had great humor, great power of ridicule, great facility 
in turning a point against an adversary, imperturbable good 
temper, strong confidence in himself, a graveyard solemnity 
of voice and face, and apparent consciousness of mastery 
in his air and manner that helped to bring him victory. He 
was not a statesman in knowledge nor intellect. Yet, on the 
contrary, he was not a mere political puppet, a clown nor a 
mountebank, amusing his audience with tricks and grimaces. 
He had respectable ability and in a certain sense very superior 
ability, and could discuss, and did discuss, the questions of the 
day with clearness and force. His presentation of them was in 
the most plain, plausible, and fascinating manner. As before 
stated, but few public speakers I have heard had such an im- 
pressive, delightful voice, and none a better one, except Mr. 
Clay and possibly Mr. Gentry. He spoke Avith ardor, en- 
thusiasm, and with immense earnestness. He fired his words 
with great rapidity and precision, and with a distinct enuncia- 
tion. As they flowed from his lips there was no hesitation, no 


halting, the words and sentences following each other without 
a break or a pause in their rapid current. His voice, at all 
times clear and distinct, swelled, with grandeur when the dignity 
of the subject demanded it. He was emphatically a dashing, 
captivating orator, indeed wonderfully so. 

The opinion I have expressed as to the decided ability of 
Jones is the one generally entertained at the time he was mak- 
ing his fame. Lately there has been a disposition, by men 
who never heard him speak, to underrate, to belittle him. This 
does injustice to the memory of Mr. Polk as well as to him. 
I repeat that Jones was not a statesman, that he was not a 
great man, except in a qualified sense. But at the same time 
I declare that he was a marvelous stump orator, especially in 
hurly-burly encounters in joint debate, in times of high political 
excitement. I further venture the opinion that any other Whig 
in Tennessee, except Jones Bell, Peyton, Foster, Gentry, 
Henry able and distinguished as they were would have failed 
to triumph over Polk, or would have been discomfited by him. 
Foster was worsted by Aaron V. Brown, Henry by Johnson, 
and Gentry, great as he was, scarcely maintained his reputa- 
tion with Johnson. 

There was something in Jones I cannot analyze it, I cannot 
fully explain it that peculiarly fitted him for hot aggressive 
contests. He seemed to delight in the noise and clangor of 
battle. The happ}^ combination of voice, person, humor, good 
temper, earnestness, ardor, clear statement, remarkable fluency, 
a vocabulary never at fault, quickness in seizing weak points, 
aptness of expression, and a remarkable facility in telling anec- 
dotes these were in part the qualities he possessed and the 
instruments he used with such phenomenal success in his great 
contests with James K. Polk. Attack him wheresoever, or how- 
soever his adversary might, he was always able in some way 
to repel the attack. His resources never failed, and he al- 
ways used them with an air of supreme confidence that he was 
absolutely right that there could not possibly be two sides 
to the question. He was a master in fencing, equally expert 
in parrying a blow, or making a thrust. He fought with all 
the means at his command anecdotes, raillery, burlesque, hu- 
mor, facts, arguments, or solemn appeal. When he saw the 
enemy entrenched in a strong position, it mattered not to him 
whether he made a feint or a flank movement, or opened with 


heavy artillery, or charged with the very lightest arms, provided 
he drove him from his position, and sent him flying from the 
field. The rapidity with which he answered the points of his 
adversary was one secret of Jones' triumphs. He spent but 
little time in answer to any point, and then passed on to an- 
other and another, and so of all, and when through with them, 
he had time to make counter attacks. His confidence in himself 
never failed. Then, he did what many speakers fail to do ; 
when he made a good point he drove it home, with tremendous 
force and with a triumphant air. 

Jones as a stump speaker was not specially noisy. He spoke 
with much ease to himself, with a clear, loud voice, and with 
distinct articulation and enunciation, and therefore he could 
with ease be heard on the outskirts of a large crowd. There 
was no great physical exertion on his part, wearying to himself 
and painful to his hearers. His speaking, while it was most 
animated and dashing, yet had a smoothness that took away 
all sense of uneasiness on the part of his audience. Polk was 
the more violent of the two. Even in telling his anecdotes, 
in his humor and in the utterance of his deepest emotions and 
passions, there was in Jones an air and manner of gentleness. 
There was never any shrieking, any piercing cries, any un- 
natural postures, any horrid contortions of face or body. He 
was in all his moods as dignified as any humorous and anecdote 
telling public speaker can be. 

What then was the secret of his power? It was (in part) 
his voice, his delightful manner, his easy, flowing speech, his 
clearness of statement, his boldness in the avowal of opinions, 
his ingenuity in turning points against his adversary, and his 
inexhaustible humor which kept his audience at all times in 
sympathy with him. These explain only in part the ascendency 
of this man over the minds and hearts of men. There was 
in fact a kind of hypnotism that brought them under his spell. 
He got down in the very life and hearts of the people. It was 
the seasoning and the dressing of the food that he served, to- 
gether with the delightful service of it, and not the dainty and 
superior quality of the material, that gave to it its flavor and 
its piquancy. 

Polk, having equal faculties for speaking with Jones, and in 
the highest the intellectual ^being his superior, it is evident 


that the signal victories of Jones were won by his superior skill 
and power in the use of those faculties. 

But if an inferior man, with scarcely an equal average equip- 
ment in all the arts of speaking, could gain, day by day, in 
two long canvasses such decided victories as to be acknowledged 
by nearly all men then, as well as now, surely such a man 
must have been more than common. It will not do to account 
for this discomfiture, in more than two hundred pitched battles, 
of one of the confessedly greatest debaters of the State, by 
the cry of buffoon, clown, mountebank. The mere statement 
of these facts, while not placing Jones on the highest plane 
of intellectuality, does elevate him to a respectable position in 
that regard, and to the first place as a joint debater before 
popular assemblies. It was an intellectual impossibility for 
such successes to have been achieved without more than com- 
mon ability. It is inconceivable, if Jones were only a political 
juggler. At his advent in the political world, he was regarded 
with wonder, and still the wonder grew as he continued his 
triumphal career for two years. 

The desire to know more of Mr. Polk is most natural. But 
few of this generation ever heard him speak or ever saw him. / 
He was scarcely of medium height, being not more than 5 
feet 7 or 8 inches tall. He was slight in body, but trim, straight, 
and graceful. His head was large with a decidedly intellectual 
cast, and his eyes were very large, of a brown or hazel color, 
very striking and handsome and with a benignant expression. 
In dress he was faultlessly neat. Indeed I considered him a 
very handsome man, at least a very distinguished looking one. 
Notwithstanding his delicate body, he was capable of the great- 
est physical endurance, as was evident from the almost incredi- 
ble amount of labor he performed in his three canvasses of the 
entire State in 1839, 1841, and 1843. His voice was loud and 
good, though his intonation was somewhat unusual, but not 
disagreeable. He spoke with fluency, clearness, earnestness, and 
rapidity. More, he spoke with elegance, and with great point- 
edness and power. As a debater, in the presentation and mar- 
shaling of facts he was ingenious, lucid, and masterly. This 
was his strong point. Very seldom has any public speaker been 
able to present a long array of facts so impressively, and at the 
same time so attractively and with such irresistible power. An- 


drew Johnson could not have done so, because he did not 
possess the charm of manner, the elegance of language, the 
lucidness of statement, nor the compactness of argument. In a 
word, Mr. Polk was universally regarded in his day as a very 
great public speaker and a most skillful debater. Looking back 
at his canvass of 1839, I very much doubt whether there was a 
man in the State, on either side, who could have produced such 
a profound impression on the public mind. As before remarked, 
after his defeat by Jones, he never seemed to have the position 
as a man of rare ability that he previously had, and I think in 
this regard injustice has been done to his memory. It is an ac- 
knowledged fact that while he was President he was master 
of his own administration, and shaped and guided its policy 
as he thought best. It was stronger and accomplished more 
than William Henry Harrison's, or Tyler's, or Taylor's, or 
Fillmore's, or Pierce's, or Buchanan's, or Hayes', or Arthur's, 
or Benjamin Harrison's, and possibly even Monroe's. He was 
in fact Prime Minister as well as President. By a war, brought 
on by his own act, he added to our dominions a vast territory 
of incalculable value. 

Mr. Polk was but little spoken or thought of for the Presi- 
dency, outside of Tennessee, previous to his nomination in 1844!. 
His nomination came about in this wise. The Southern Demo- 
crats, under the skillful leadership of Mr. Calhoun, had deter- 
mined to annex Texas to the United States, and to that end 
they had determined also that Mr. Van Buren, who was by 
long odds the most prominent candidate for that position, and 
who was openly opposed to annexation, should be defeated in 
the nominating convention. For this purpose they artfully 
secured the adoption of the rule requiring two-thirds of the 
delegates to make a nomination. That killed Mr. Van Buren's 
chances, as it was designed to do, for in no contingency after 
his letter in opposition to the annexation of Texas, could he 
get the requisite two-thirds with the solid South against him. 
Much less could General Cass, the next prominent candidate, 
get a two-thirds vote. Therefore after balloting and balloting 
in vain for these two men, Mr. Polk's name was presented, 
as had been previously arranged, and his nomination put through 
with a shout. 

Mr. Polk's election was but little less anomalous. Mr. Clay, 
the opposing candidate, had taken early in the canvass, in his 


Raleigh letter, decided ground against the annexation of Texas. 
Later on, in what was called his Alabama letter, with the view 
of reconciling his friends in the South, some of whom were dis- 
contented with his position the feeling in favor of annexation 
becoming daily stronger and stronger in that section he modi- 
fied or changed his position, by saying he would be glad to see 
Texas annexed, provided it could be accomplished, without war 
with Mexico, and without national dishonor, and with some other 
conditions. That letter defeated him. The election ultimately 
depended upon the vote of the State of New York. The race 
there was very close. The Abolitionists then a mere handful 
held the balance of power. They were displeased with Mr. Clay 
for his change of position. They were violently opposed to the 
annexation of Texas, because they saw in it the extension of 
slavery and the growth of the slave power. They therefore 
deliberately cast their votes for Mr. Birney, their own candi- 
date, and withheld them from Mr. Clay, with whom they agreed 
in general in politics, and thus gave by a very small plurality 
the vote of New York to JMr. Polk. If they had voted for Mr. 
Clay, as most of them intended doing previous to his second 
letter, he would have carried the State of New York and been 
elected. Thus the small band of Abolitionists of New York 
secured the election of ]Mr. Polk, the open advocate of annexa- 
tion, and the defeat of Mr. Clay, the enemy of that scheme, 
or at least a doubtful friend. Every vote cast for Birney in the 
existing conditions was a vote taken from ]Mr. Clay, and, in 
its effect, a vote for Mr. Polk. But annexation was bound to 
come in spite of Mr. Clay and Mr. Van Buren, and in spite of 
the Whigs and Abolitionists. It was the "manifest destiny" 
of the country, guided by the genius of Mr. Calhoun and the 
Southern Democrats. The country, and especially the South, 
demanded the liberty of sharing in that magnificent territory 
enriched by the blood of Milam, Crockett, Travis, Bowie, and 
Hanning, and won by the valor of Houston. 

Mr. Polk's private character was exceptionally good. There 
was not a blot nor a stain on it. He was gentle and lovable. 
When he made the canvass of 1839, Bailie Peyton, then a dis- 
tinguished Member of Congress, was to have been his opponent, 
as he (Peyton) himself said in substance in a speech in Greene- 
ville. I never knew why he was not, but suppose Governor 
Cannon would not get out of the way. If Peyton had been 


the candidate, the result ahnost certainly would have been differ- 
ent. He was a fiery, daring, stirring speaker, with infinite 
humor and wit, and considerable eloquence. He had the courage 
to dare and the will to do anything that his judgment approved. 
He was not the equal of Polk in statesmanship, nor as a debater, 
but he possessed a dash, a brilliancy, a manly bearing that 
more than made up for the lack of these, and which Polk would 
have dreaded more than he did Jones. The wit and humor of 
Peyton were irresistible. Besides, he was a noble and chivalrous 
gentleman of the highest type. The reaction against Jackson 
in Tennessee began in 1835, and resulted in giving the vote of 
the State to Hugh Lawson White for President, and then in 
1837 to Cannon for Governor, and was still going on in 1839, 
when Polk arrested and checked it for the time being. But it 
was only checked. It again swelled into majestic proportions 
in 1840, when Harrison rode in triumph on the crest of the 
tide of popular indignation, and carried the State by thirteen 
thousand majority. 

But to hasten to a conclusion. Polk was a small and appar- 
ently a delicate man. But he was vital with energy and am- 
bition. His endurance was almost phenomenal. He entered 
the contest of 18-11, determined to win, but he soon found he 
had a competitor very different from good old Governor Can- 
non. The two ambitious competitors opened the canvass in 
Wilson County in March. Soon they were in East Tennessee. 
They canvassed the State, county by county, from Johnson to 
Shelby. In some places, and possibly at all, they spoke five 
hours a day. In those days there were no railroads, and there- 
fore they had to travel altogether on horseback or in private 
conveyances. They spoke every day, and generally had to go 
twenty-five or thirty miles to reach the appointment for the 
next day. What an immense strain on the vital powers ! 

In the canvass of 1841, the speaking apparently closed be- 
yond the mountains. But Polk secretly made a second list of 
appointments for himself in East Tennessee, and slipped off 
to fill them. While he was on his way, driving furiously for- 
ward to reach them, Jones was informed of, or suspected his 
design, and he also immediately set off for the distant appoint- 
ments nearly three hundred miles away. Jones, whip in hand, 
spurred onward night and day, giving neither sleep to his eyes 
nor slumber to his eyelids. What was the surprise and con- 


fusion of Polk to find Jones at his first appointment, ready to 
reproach and taunt him, as he did, with teUing effect, for his 
cowardice in trying to avoid meeting him face to face. Jones 
thus gained an additional advantage over Polk. In the last 
days of August I heard them on this flying trip, before a great 
crowd, at Bull's Gap, near the corner of Greene, Hawkins, 
Jefferson, and Grainger Counties. Jones was bold and confident, 
having the air of a conqueror. Polk, on the other hand, was 
careworn, irritable, indeed mad, as his party was mad all over 
the State. He complained in doleful tones of Jones' levity and 
want of dignity in the debates, in telling anecdotes. Jones 
retorted by reminding him of how he drove poor old Cannon 
almost distracted with his stories, his mimicries, and his grim- 
aces two years before, and how gay he then was, and how 
dignified and sedate he was now. 

It was at Bean's Station, I believe, that an incident happened 
which was never forgotten by those who were present. Polk 
was complaining, as usual, of the levity of Jones' discussions, 
and said that if a stranger from another State should happen 
to be present he would not dream that his competitor was seek- 
ing the high office of Governor, judging from his manner, but 
would suppose he was acting the leading part in the ring of a 
circus. "Yes," said Jones, in his reply, "I will accept the 
position assigned to me by my competitor of master of the 
ring, will get down into the sawdust, with whip in hand, and 
bring out the pony, but my competitor must perform the other 
part wear the spangles, put on the red cap, and take the 
place of the little fellow that goes around on the pony. When 
I raise my long whip [raising his hand as if in the act of 
cracking it] and crack it, and give the word of command, then 
go." In a moment he shouted, "Go !" The crowd caught 
the idea, and imagining they saw Polk flying around the ring 
on the pony, in wild uproar cried out, "Monkey, ]\Ionkey ! 
Baboon, Baboon !" 

Such a scene as followed, it is rarely given to mortals to 
witness the wild, tumultuous laughing and yelling that seized 
and held the crowd! That afternoon the people went home 
laughing, they awoke the next morning laughing, and for a 
long time afterward, whenever they thought of Polk with a 
red cap flying roand the ring in a circus, they continued to 


Polk was petrified. It is believed he never rode the pony 
afterward, nor attended another circus ! 

The two canvasses of 1841 and 1843 were exceedingly ex- 
citing. Very large and eager crowds everywhere greeted the 
speakers. Curiosity and expectation stood on tiptoe! The 
discussions were more than animated they were hot, spirited, 
intensely earnest. They awakened the keenest and the most 
bitter interest throughout the State. Finally this interest spread 
beyond the State, and extended to the outer borders of the 
Union. These contests, in their duration, though not in the 
greatness of the subjects discussed, were the most marked 
political campaigns ever conducted in this country. Treating 
the two canvasses as one, they lasted eight months of active 
speaking, with nearly two hundred pitched battles. The joint 
debate, justly so celebrated, between Lincoln and Douglas, em- 
braced just seven days. 

]Mr. Jones' speaking was simple, direct and straightforward. 
He never pla3'ed with metaphors or figures of speech. There 
was no attempt at great oratory. There were no eagle flights, 
no grand pyrotechnic diplays. It was addressed and adapted 
to the average intelligence of Tennessee audiences of that day. 
The plainest mind could comprehend him. He did not shoot 
above the heads of his audience. 

I need not say that Jones was elected Governor in both 
these elections. In popular estimation he became a political 
hero. His name was often mentioned in connection with the 
vice-presidency. In 1851 he was elected one of the Senators of 
the L^nited States from Tennessee. As far back as 1839, he had 
proclaimed himself for Mr. Clay for President. This was at the 
time when jNIr. Clay was still suffering from the enmity of the 
overshadowing influence of General Jackson. In both of his 
canvasses with Polk he daily declared himself for Mr. Clay for 
the presidency, and called on his competitor and indeed dared 
him to name his candidate for that position among the Dem- 
ocrats. At Jonesboro, as John S. Mathes relates, while Jones 
was daring Polk to name his candidate, old Adam Broyles 
spoke up in the audience and said he would name the candidate 
and the next president also ; it would be James K. Polk ! And 
sure enough it was ! 

Jones' devotion to Clay suffered no abatement while that 


patriot lived. After he became Senator, during the protracted 
illness of Mr, Clay, he was daily at his bedside one of the few 
having that privilege and in his last moments he was standing 
by when the spirit of that great patriot and statesman took 
its flight from the earth. 

In 1854 Jones, as Senator, voted for the repeal of the 
Missouri compromise measure, along with every Democratic 
Senator of the South, except Sam Houston, and separated him- 
self from his colleague, John Bell, thus swapping horses while 
crossing a stream. He from that time forward was a Democrat. 
He once had declared that there was a great chasm dark, 
deep, and wide that separated him from the Democratic party, 
which it was impossible for him to cross, yet somehow or an- 
other he got over it. 

The claim made by some at this time that Jones was a mere 
shallow clown is contrary to both history and tradition. Men 
can believe a good deal, but not everything. If those who per- 
sist in saying that Jones was a mere mountebank would admit 
that while he was not the equal of Polk in argument, or logic, in 
learning and statesmanship, in breadth of intellect and 
knowledge of public affairs, yet that he possessed an active, 
versatile, dexterous mind, great readiness and resources in de- 
bate, and wonderful power in turning points against an oppo- 
nent, I could readily agree with them indeed I have already 
said the same things. But when they attempt to make of him a 
mere ninny, almost a shallow fool, they set at naught the judg- 
ment of the tens of thousands of persons all over the State who 
heard him, the intelligent as well as the ignorant; they set at 
naught the tradition which has come down to this day, and they 
make of ]\Ir. Polk a very weak man, to be vanquished in two 
hundred debates by such a buffoon and simpleton. 

The subsequent career of Jones was not specially brilliant. 
In 1848 he supported Taylor for President and in 1852 he was 
one of the special champions of General Scott. This was the 
canvass (that of 1852) In which John H. Crozier, William G. 
Swan, James and William Williams of our own State, and 
Toombs and Stephens of Georgia, quit the Whig party, and 
went over to the support of the Democratic party. It was the 
canvass in which Gentry and Brownlow refused to support 
Scott, but cast their votes for Webster without ceasing to be 


Whigs. The action of all these was based on the ground that 
Scott was not believed to be true to the South on the Slavery 

As before stated, Jones was elected in 1851-52 to a seat in 
the United States senate and served one term. In 1856 he 
abandoned the Whig and joined the Democratic party, although 
he had once boasted that there was a great chasm deep, wide, 
and impassable that separated him from that party. Yet with 
supreme agility he bounded over it ! 

I am asked what became of Jones, after his retirement from 
the Senate, and his wonderful bound across the impassable 
chasm described by him. The answer is briefly given. When 
he retired from the Senate, he was last seen slowly, sadly pass- 
ing down the decline on the other side of the chasm, disappearing 
below the political horizon, hastening to his early setting, and 
no man ever saw him more politically. 

To abandon figures of speech, Mr. Jones' political career 
closed with his term in the United States Senate, which was not 
brilliant. He lived but a few years afterward, dying in the very 
maturity of his powers, leaving many friends in the State to 
mourn his loss, among whom were many old Whigs, who remem- 
bered with gratitude the glories of 1841 and 1843. 

The effect of the defeats of Mr. Polk for the Governorship of 
Tennessee was the obscuration of his fame for a brief period. 
But the still potent influence in his behalf of his faithful friend, 
General Jackson, and the ever devoted friendship of his other 
Tennessee friends, exerted at a critical moment, when there was a 
deadlock in the national Democratic convention between Mr. 
Van Buren and General Cass neither candidate being able to 
secure the requisite two-thirds vote Mr. Polk's name being 
suddenly sprung on the convention, secured for him the nomi- 
nation and subsequently his election to the presidency. Not- 
withstanding his elevation to this high office, and the acquisition 
by his administration of very large and valuable territory, and 
notwithstanding the administration was marked with vigor, and 
by the adoption of measures of momentous consequences to the 
country, Mr. Polk has never been ranked in statesmanship 
with our great presidents. I think, indeed, that injustice has 
been done him by his countrymen. One reason of this was the 
fact that he was always a partisan in his official acts. He was 


never able to lift himself above party into the serene heights 
of liberal statesmanship. 

He had been an active participant in the exciting and 
tempestuous scenes of Jackson's administration, and a part 
of Van Buren's ; he had heard himself reproached and denounced 
by the fiery Whig leaders Prentiss, Marshall, Wise, Peyton 
he had keenly felt the refusal of the Whigs to give him a vote of 
thanks when he was about to retire from the Speakership of 
the House, and he knew that S. S. Prentiss, amid the thundering 
applause of his political friends, had denounced him in the 
House as "the tool of the President and of his party," and al- 
though a very amiable man in private life, he could never 
forgive his political enemies for these wrongs, and he carried 
this feeling into the presidency. 


Andrew Jackson General Winfleld Scott James K. Polk Bailie Pey- 
ton Felix Grundy John J. Crittenden William C. Preston John C. 
Calhoun President Taylor Henry Clay General Brooks Joseph E. 
Johnston General Hardee General Garland Albert Sydney John- 
ston General Harney General Sam Houston. 

In the following account of the distinguished national per- 
sonages whom I met or knew, the first in order of time, and 
perhaps in durability of fame, was Andrew Jackson. In 1835, 
while he was President, he was passing through East Tennessee, 
in his own carriage, on his way from Washington to the Her- 
mitage, when he stopped for a day in Greeneville, Avith his friend, 
John Dixon, a merchant of that place. News had been cir- 
culated in advance that he would be in Greeneville on that day 
and therefore the country people turned out in large numbers 
to see him. He held a reception, and the people passed him, 
one after another, and had a chance to shake his hand, and some 
of them to have a moment's conversation with him. I was then 
a boy, but I fell in line, and had the honor of receiving a 
graceful bow from the most dignified and august man of that 
generation. To see him once was to remember him forever. 
His air of majestic imperiousness, though united with the 
most princely and gracious manner, struck a kind of awe into 
the mind of the beholders. If ever a man was born to command 
men at first sight, he certainly was. Men involuntarily yielded 
him leadership. His very presence I might almost say his 
terrible presence excited awe inspiring respect mingled with 

The next national character I saw was General Winfield 
Scott. In 1838 I was a volunteer soldier under him in the 
Cherokee nation during the Indian disturbances, and holding 
an honorable position it became my duty to carry a dispatch 
from Red Clay, Ga., to him at his headquarters at Charleston, 
Tenn. During my stay I saw him mounted on a splendid large, 
black horse, in full uniform, followed by some or all of his staff, 


taking a ride. It is useless to say, as all persons already know, 
that he was an unusually tall and large and magnificent man 
a figure of chivalry, or romance. Richard, the lion-hearted, 
as painted by Sir AValter Scott, in his flashing steel panoply, 
going into gay tournament, was not to the eye grander in car- 
riage or in mien than General Scott when mounted on his 
powerful charger. Several years after this I was taken to his 
headquarters in Washington, and introduced to him by an 
officer and a comrade of his in the War of 1812. We were 
received with impressive politeness, and spent a half hour with 
him in friendly, but dignified conversation. He doubtless was 
unusually complacent on that occasion, as the presidential can- 
vass of 1852 was then only six or eight months ahead, and 
he made no concealment of the fact that he would be a candidate 
for the Whig nomination. In this conversation he used the ex- 
pression, "the rich Irish brogue," so much referred to in the 
succeeding canvass, but whether or not for the first time I can- 
not say. His great weakness was his excessive vanity and love 
of show ; hence his nickname, "Old Fuss and Feathers." Ex- 
cepting his weakness and his foibles in this and in other respects, 
and his haughtiness he was a man of the highest merit and of 
first-class military ability. He displayed his military ability 
conspicuously in two wars in Mexico and in that of 1812, when 
he was only a very young man. His campaign in ^Mexico, 
from Vera Cruz to the capital, considering the smallness of his 
army, was one of the most remarkable triumphs of military 
genius of our history. 

In 1839 I first saw James K. Polk and heard him make a 
notable speech of nearly three hours' length, in Grceneville, as 
a candidate for Governor. I often heard him afterward in 
1841, and 1843, in his celebrated discussions with James C. 
Jones. Mr. Polk was unquestionably a man of a high order 
of ability and of very great power as a speaker. He dealt 
with facts and ideas with great fluency, skill, and force. But 
few men equaled him in the power of holding men, by clear and 
convincing presentation of political issues. Nothing but the 
phenomenal power of Jones, in his own peculiar way, could 
have triumphed over him. The country has never given ]\Ir. 
Polk his due for ability, neither as an orator nor as a statesman, 
nor has Tennessee done so since his defeat by Jones. 

In 1837 or 1839, I heard Bailie Peyton speak. He was 


then a very handsome young man, in the meridian of his fame, 
and a brilliant member of Congress. He and Harry A. Wise 
had led in the house the fiercest assaults ever made on Jackson 
and on Van Buren's administration. He was a game, noble, 
chivalrous, brilliant man, ever ready for a fight, or to assist 
in a matter of honor. In later years I knew him well. 

In 1840 Felix Grundy, returning from Washington in com- 
pan}'- with Senator Hopkins L. Turner and Henry W^atterson 
of the house came through East Tennessee, making speeches 
in favor of Van Buren. They spoke at Greeneville before an 
immense assemblage. Of course Grundy was the "observed of 
all observers. V He was one of the greatest orators in a certain 
way this country has ever produced, fit to be, as he was in his 
young days, the rival of Henry Clay. His eloquence was soft 
and gentle and persuasive, moving an audience with a bewitching 
and irresistible fascinatiorv On this occasion the scene was 
enlivened and rendered in the highest degree picturesque by the 
appearance on the stand of General Thomas D. Arnold, who 
demanded a division of time on behalf of the Whigs, which was 
granted, but he was sandwiched in between Watterson and 
Turney on the one side, and Grundy on the other. Such a 
sicene of wit, ridicule, sarcasm, repartee, and occasional elo- 
quence as occurred between Arnold and Grundy I never have 
witnessed. I do not pretend to describe it here. The soft and 
gentle eloquence of Grundy still |ingers in my mind as one of 
my most cherished recollection s.v^ Some one (was it Homer, in 
reference to the eloquence of Ulj^sses?) haS compared this kind 
of eloquence to the gentle falling of snow* 

In that same year, 1840, I heard John J. Crittenden make 
one of the greatest speeches of his life, to an audience which 
was estimated at the time to be forty thousand, at the great 
interstate mass meeting at Cumberland Gap, held by the people 
of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina. I after- 
wards met him two or three times in Frankfort and in Washing- 
ton. He had the reputation in his da}^ and I think he deserved 
it, of being second only to Mr. Clay and one or two others, both 
in oratory and statesmanship. He was an amiable and a lov- 
able gentleman and one of the purest and noblest statesmen 
of his generation. ... 

In the same year I met and twice heard William C. Preston, .:|^ 
the great Virginia-South Carolina orator, at a Whig mass! 


meeting at Brushy Creek camp ground, now Johnson City. The 
first day he spoke in advocacy of the Whig cause, and in favor 
of the election of General Harrison, and the second day on 
the battle of King's ^Mountain, the anniversary of that event 
occurring on that day. Mr. Preston was unquestionably an 
orator of nearly the first magnitude, ranking but little below 
Mr. Clay, in the power to stir men's blood, and above him in 
the classical beauty of his diction. He was most imposing in 
appearance, being very large and portly, and about 6 feet 5 
mches in height. His hair was sandy colored, with the ruddy 
complexion of his grandfather, Colonel William Campbell, and 
of his ancestors, the Campbells (Argylies) in Scotland. He 
came legitimately by his eloquence, being the great-nephew of 
Patrick Henry. Unquestionably he was one of the grandest 
orators of this country. 

In 1845 John C. Calhoun stopped in Greenevllle for a night, 
on his way to his home in South Carolina from the springs in 
Virginia. He was traveling with his servants in his own car- 
riages. Some young law students, studying under Judge R. J. 
jNIcKinney, among them myself, called on him to pay our re- 
spects, but quite as much to see so great a man and hear him 
talk. He received us most graciously and kindly, and talked 
to us for half an hour or longer, he choosing such subjects 
as he knew would interest young men. He poured out an in- 
cessant stream of information and thought, clothed in the most 
terse, lucid, and striking language. We listened to him as to 
a sage or an oracle. In my lifetime I have met no man who 
impressed me more with his pure intellectuality. In appear- 
ance he was tall, straight, and slender, and of a most graceful 
personage, and, I thought, handsome. In appearance he was 
my ideal of what I deem a statesman and a great man should 
be. His dress was faultless black. In a word, everything about 
him his person, his features, his face, his dress were refined 
and in the best taste, such as one would expect in a man of 
delicate organism and the purest intellectualit3^ 

In 1850 I made my first trip to Washington, going by way 
of Chattanooga and Charleston, and traveling alternately by 
boat and by railway. While in Washington I attended one of 
President Taylor's receptions. His frank, simple, cordial man- 
ners were strikingly refreshing. He grasped the hand and ex- 
pressed delight at seeing one with an energy equal to Roose- 


velt at the present time. It was the warm-hearted greeting 
of an unaffected soldier. I was quite as much struck with the 
elegant manners and the unostentatious simplicity of the dress 
of the daughter, the first lady of the land, 3.1rs. Bliss, who was 
doing the honors of the White House. She wore a plain, a 
very plain, crossbarred lawn, absolutely without trimmings or 
ornament. And yet it was so neat and fit her fine person so well 
that I thought she looked quite queenly. 

I saw Mr. Clay, Mr. Webster, and Mr. Benton the three 
most distinguished characters then in Congress very frequent- 
ly. Mr. Calhoun had just died a short time after delivering 
his last, and one of his greatest, speeches on the absorbing ques- 
tions of 1850. As I went on I met his remains, with the funeral 
escort, in North Carolina. Indeed he was dying when he made his 
last speech, and I believe it had to be read by some one for him. 
I saw every day for two or three weeks. Senators Seward, Ber- 
rien, Badger, INIason, Clayton, Bayard, Soule, Houston, Rusk, 
Crittenden, Davis, Foote, and Bell, and Representatives Toombs, 
Stephens, Douglas, Corwin, and all of the great men of that time. 
I heard a part of the speech of Alexander Stephens on the 
admission of Oregon as a State. Mr. Toombs was by his side, 
all excitement, prompting and making suggestions to him. The 
house was all alive, and showing the most intense interest as 
the eloquent little Georgian delivered his fearless speech. At 
the time I was sitting beside Andrew Johnson. He remarked to 
me that Stephens was a greater man than Toombs. 

One of my life-long regrets has been that I did not avail 
myself of the kind offer of a Member of Congress to go with 
him to call on, and be introduced to, Mr. Clay (and perhaps 
Mr. Webster also). I very foolishly felt timid about appear- 
ing in the presence of so great a man, and therefore postponed 
going from time to time until too late. But I had the privilege 
of a greater pleasure that of hearing ]\Ir. Clay deliver one of 
his set and greatest speeches. A short time before my arrival 
Mr. AVebster had made his great and patriotic speech of the 
7th of March, which so provoked the rage of the Abolitionists, 
and which finally put him out of public life, and caused his pre- 
mature death. 

At the time of the intense excitement in the country, in 
1849, and the threatened secession of the Southern States, Mr. 
Clay came forth from his voluntary retirement, and re-entered 


public life, going into the Senate, with the avowed purpose of 
trying to save the country, as he had done in 1820, by oflfer- 
ing a compromise of the differences between the North and the 
South. After many measures and resolutions had been offered 
in Congress, and much angry debate, a committee of thirteen 
was appointed, of which he was chairman, to which were re- 
ferred his and other resolutions. After anxious and long de- 
liberations, Mr. Clay at length submitted a report embodying 
his plan of a compromise, which in substance, after a long de- 
bate, was adopted, not as a whole, as proposed, but in separate 

It was upon these measures, involving the peace of the country 
and the integrity of the Union that Mr. Clay, after due notice, 
arose in the Senate to open debate. For hours before, the Sen- 
ate gallery (it was the old Senate chamber) was packed with 
people anxious to hear the great orator and venerable Senator. 
I was there early and got a good seat, where I could both see 
and hear the speaker. For two or three hours he held the 
Senate and galleries spellbound by his matchless eloquence. The 
most profound silence prevailed, lest the listeners might lose 
a word that fell from his honeyed lips and persuasive tongue, 
save only when a pleasant colloquy took place between Mr. 
Mason and him. I need not say that he was the most graceful 
orator, the most perfect in action, the most easy and natural 
in manner, the most frank and fearless in the avowal of his 
opinions, and that his voice was the richest and the most 
melodious I ever heard, and at the same time that he was the 
most courteous to his fellow Senators. This would be but re- 
peating what has been said of him by millions of people for fifty 
years. His voice, whether in its highest or its lowest notes, was 
music itself it was indeed grander and sweeter than music. 
After the lapse of more than fifty years, 1 can yet distinctly 
catch its sound and feel its thrill in my own mind. It has been 
said often that Mr. Gentry of this State had a better voice 
than Mr. Clay. Mr. Gentry unquestionably had a grand voice. 
It rang out like a bugle, sweet, loud, and sonorous. But it 
lacked the divine melody, the soul enrapturing symphony of 
the voice of Mr. Clay. 

Perhaps after all it was not the marvelous voice, the super- 
lative distinctness of enunciation, the grace of action, tiie nat- 
uralness of manner, the easy flow of apt words and bright 


thoughts, the sincere and earnest conviction that captivated 
all audiences in Mr. Clay, so much as the inner spirit of the 
man his greatness of soul, his high honor, his open frankness, 
his courage, his warm heart, and his wonderful power of catch- 
ing and holding, as if by a spell, the fancy and the hearts of 
men. Thus, for a life time he was loved and idolized by a 
large part of the American people as no other leader ever 
was. His very name sent a thrill through their hearts. 

Next after his melodious voice and wonderful gracefulness of 
manner, I think the effect of his oratory was owing to the sur- 
passing distinctness of his utterance and enunciation ; you could 
hear nearly every letter in his words. For example, he pro- 
nounced California as it is divided thus Cal-i-for-ni-a, with- 
out halting on the letters or parts, and with the rhythm of 

He spoke with the vigor and fire of young manhood. There 
was no cessation in his flowing sentences, no halting, no hesitat- 
ing for words or thoughts. His oratory was kept sustained 
and at high tide throughout, like the current of a full and 
mighty stream. 

In a few months after hearing Mr. Clay, I heard the cele- 
brated Tom Marshall speak. He was considered, and was in 
fact, a great orator sensational, erratic, and emotional. He 
was a type of the brilliant orators, after the style of William 
T. Haskell, though I thought him inferior. His too partial 
friends, however, considered that he was the equal of Mr. Clay. 
He doubtless thought so himself, for he attacked the latter in 
a powerful speech in Lexington, I believe, their mutual home. 
Mr. Clay answered him and afterward neither his friends nor 
Mr. Marshall himself ever entertained that opinion. 

Mr. Clay's oratory was of the simplest character, except his 
grand and impressive manner. It was earnest and full of life 
and vehemence, yet in the very "torrent, tempest, and whirl- 
wind" of his speaking, there was a "temperance" that gave 
it "smoothness." Every sentence, as uttered by him was alive 
with thought and passion. That wonderful voice and his magnifi- 
cent, yet simple manner, were back of all and through all. There 
was not the slightest effort at what is supposed to be brilliant 
oratory, no skyscraping, no eagle flights, no flinging of rain- 
bows across the heavens. His own mind was burning with great 
thoughts, and he was deadly intent on telling them to others. 


Much of the so-called flights of fancy in public speaking is not 
to convey ideas, but to conceal the want of them. We have had 
great floods of this in Tennessee. "How stale, how flat, and 

In 1850 I spent six months in Texas, in an official capacity 
that brought me into intimate relations with officers of the 
regular army stationed there. I became well acquainted with 
General Brooks, commanding that department, then the most 
important in the United States; with Colonel Joseph E. John- 
ston, Colonel Hardee (afterward general), with General Gar- 
land, the son-in-law of General Worth, with the daring General 
Harney, the successor of General Brooks, as department com- 
mander, and was introduced to Albert Sydney Johnston. Colonel 
Joseph E. Johnston was then, as he was after he had won his 
fame as one of the greatest generals of the Civil War, modest, 
quiet and gentlemanly, and a man of great intelligence. He was 
considered by the officers one of the most promising men in the 
army. General Harney was then a little past his prime. He 
had won considerable reputation in the Mexican war, as a dar- 
ing and dashing cavalry officer, and in fighting Indians on the 
frontier. As he was from Tennessee, he was naturally drawn 
to me, and we became fast friends. He was a giant in size, 
being 6 feet 6 or 7 inches in height. His wife Avas a St. Louis 
lady of great wealth. The result was that he lived on the 
frontier in great extravagance. The most elegant and costly 
dinner I ever attended was given by him in honor of our com- 
mission. He was indeed a big-hearted as well as a brave 

But the most celebrated person I met in Texas, and I met 
many, was General Sam Houston. He made a speech in Hous- 
ton on the Fourth of July, 1851, the day I arrived there, re- 
turning home. The next day I traveled with him on a boat to 
Galveston, and put up with him in the same house, Avhere we 
were together for two or three days. Of course I had heard 
him speak in Houston. As a speaker he was strong, rough 
and eff'ective, but not an accomplished or eloquent popular 
orator. But the fighting qualities in him made his speeches 
quite attractive. He struck right and left with ponderous force 
at his enemies. He openly hurled defiance at them and damned 
them to perdition. When he got through with them there were 
not many fragments left. No man had warmer friends or more 


pronounced enemies. I was told by scores of men that he was 
an arrant coward, and that he skulked in the battle of San 
Jacinto. Even the late admiral of the Texas navy, while it 
was a republic, enlivened the passengers on our crowded stage 
coach, going from Houston to Austin, for a whole day de- 
nouncing him as a coward, and in every way as dishonorable 
and unworthy. Many others, indeed a large majority of per- 
sons in Texas, of equally as much standing, believed and af- 
firmed that Houston, while not a saint, was a pure patriot, a 
brave soldier, and justl}'^ entitled to be called the defender and 
the father of the republic. Through a pitiless storm of abuse 
and detraction he proudly held on his way, the central figure, 
and by long odds the foremost man in Texas from 1836 to 
1861. No ordinary man could have withstood and triumphed 
over such bitter and long continued opposition. 


Brownlow a Native of Virginia A Mechanic ^Methodist Preacher 
Established Tennessee Whiff at Elizabethton, 1838 In 1839 Removed 
to Jonesboro, Paper Talking Name Jonesboro Whig and Independent 
Editorial Contest Between Haynes and Brownlow 1849, Removed 
Family and Paper to Knoxville Bitter Quarrel with Knoxville Regis- 
ter Controversy with John H. Crozier, William and James Williams, 
and William G. Swan In 18f30 Circulation of Whig 14,000 Personal 
Characteristics Public Spirit As a Public Speaker Influence in 

Of the Union leaders in East Tennessee, in 1860-61, the next 
after Andrew Johnson in national importance and political in- 
fluence was unquestionably William Gannaway Brownlow, a 
native of Virginia. He was a unique and a remarkable charac- 
ter. Like Mr. Johnson, his early education had been incom- 
plete, but he possessed a natural ability which enabled him to 
overcome this deficiency much more completely than the former 
ever did. By reading and association with others he acquired 
to a considerable extent the graces and diction of an educated 
man. He also, like Johnson, had been an apprentice and a 
mechanic, having learned and worked at the trade of a carpenter 
when quite a young man. But unlike Johnson, he was not al- 
ways ostentatiously parading this fact before the world. He 
was not ashamed of his early calling, but never felt the need of 
constantly proclaiming it. There was not in his nature the 
slightest trace of the demagogue. He never found it necessary 
to array one class against another in order to gain popularity. 
He was always the friend of the poor and helpless, and they all 
knew it, not by his words, but by his daily acts of beneficence. 
While he did not obsequiously court the rich and the powerful, 
he was uniformly just toward them, and never for political or 
personal effect sought to array laboring men against them. He 
was just to both classes, and had the respect and esteem of both. 

Early in manhood Mr. Brownlow became a Methodist preach- 
er. In this capacity he soon became distinguished. His fame 
spread far beyond his immediate circuits. He was unprece- 



dently aggressive against every sin and vice, and against every 
creed he did not like. His motto was, "Cry aloud, spare not." 
With an unparalleled audacity he attacked systems, creeds and 
sects^ and all offending persons. This, of course, soon brought 
him into bitter controversies. One of the first of these was with 
a Baptist minister named Humphrey Posey of North Carolina. 
Finally a libel suit was the outcome of this controversy. In a 
book published by Mr. Brownlow in 1838 he immortalized poor 
old Posey, and then turned him over to the gaze of posterity. 
This book is entitled : "Helps to the Study of Presbyterianism." 
It was both personal and controversial. In it the Presbyterians 
came in for the larger part of his attentions. That was a period 
of almost universal controversy and disputation among religious 
sects in East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia. Men fairly 
burned with zeal for their respective churches, and were almost 
ready to die for their faith, though they preferred seeing their 
religious enemies die. In this there was more hot blood than 
grace, charity, or good will. 

Mr. Brownlow early became the champion of the Methodist 
Church in the South, and so continued until approaching age 
began to quench the fiery ardor of his younger days. Any 
attack on his own church was sure to call forth from his facile 
pen a scathing reply not easily forgotten. For this purpose he 
generally used the columns of his own paper, but when the con- 
troversy became exciting, by reason of the importance of the 
question involved or the greatness of the opposing contro- 
versialist, he resorted to serial magazines of his own. 

In these controversies Mr. Brownlow always sustained himself 
to the satisfaction of his Church and his friends. Generally, 
when he got through with his adversary, by the use of reason, 
facts, ridicule, and sometimes cartoons and abuse, there was not 
much left of him. He had the faculty of always making any 
cause he advocated appear to be right to his admirers. This 
was talent, not to say genius. In the popular mind he always 

In the Church Brownlow's influence was all powerful. In 
1832, at the age of twenty-seven, he was elected a delegate to 
the General Conference of the Methodist Church, which assem- 
bled in Philadelphia. Perhaps it is remembered by but few 
persons of this generation that Landon C. Haynes, one of the 
Senators from Tennessee in the Confederate Congress from 


1861 to 1865, started out in life a Whig and a Methodist 
preacher. It finally came about that he and Mr. Brownlow had 
a bitter quarrel, and through the influence of the latter he was 
silenced and turned out of the Church. Mr. Haynes then be- 
came a Democrat and the editor of a village paper, and finally 
a lawyer. A fierce and terrible newspaper war followed between 
these two remarkable men, which lasted for many years. This 
was in Jonesboro, Tenn., at that time their mutual home. Mr. 
Haynes was a bright, witty, showy, and an aggressive man. He 
was a fluent and skillful orator. 

Mr. Brownlow's first connection with the press was as editor 
and proprietor of the Tennessee Whig, the publication of which 
he beo;an as a weekly, at Elizabethton, Tenn,, in 1838. From 
the first number this paper uttered no uncertain sound. One of 
the old mottoes flying at the head of his paper was : "Inde- 
pendence in all things ; neutral in nothing." His paper was 
stalwart in its advocacy of Whig principles, and from the first 
its bold and fearless utterances attracted attention. The vigor 
and originality of his style, the fierce and daring attacks made 
on all kinds of wrong, the astounding boldness with which he 
attacked men and measures, soon established the reputation of 
the paper and gave notoriety to its editor far beyond the banks 
of the beautiful Watauga, the home of the first settlers of 
Tennessee, where it was published. Let it be remembered that 
this paper was issued from a little out-of-the-way mountain 
village of not more than two hundred souls, and with scarcely 
fifty houses. At that time, and indeed for many years after- 
ward, Mr. Brownlow fairly wantoned in his strength, his cour- 
age, and in the wild excitement of personal controversy. 

In 1839 Brownlow moved with his paper to Jonesboro, a 
larger town, about twenty miles west of Elizabethton. Here 
the paper took the name of the Jonesboro Whig and Inde- 
pendent. Jonesboro was the oldest town in the State, and con- 
tained from seven hundred to one thousand inhabitants. 

The Jonesboro Whig was a five-column paper, about twenty- 
five inches long, published at two dollars per annum, if paid in 
advance, three dollars if paid within the year, and four if paid 
afterward. Through this little paper, published once a week, 
its editor gained a national reputation, even away back in 1840. 
No parallel to it can be found in this country. Extracts were 
made from it in all the leading Whig papers in the United 


States. He became so well known that wherever he went he 
was a kind of hero. He was gazed at and followed with curious 
eyes as a wonder. It must be kept in mind that Jonesboro was 
an interior town, in an interior section of the State, with no 
railroad, no water communications, and with only a tri-weekly 
stage coach. The arrival of a single stranger in the little town 
in those days would create such a sensation as nearly to suspend 
all business until his name and business were ascertained. In 
this village, and with this little paper, Mr. Brownlow became 
famous. There was not in the United States such another vol- 
cano as this paper became, constantly muttering, seething, and 
boiling. Woe to the man on whom the storm burst. 

With all his patronage it was a hard matter to keep his little 
craft afloat. Several times Mr. Brownlow embarked in other 
enterprises to aid him in making a living, but always with 
disaster. Incompetent or dishonest associates or agents got the 
better of him every time. The truth is, he was too liberal, too 
unsuspecting, too negligent of details for a successful business 
man. He would become the surety of all who called on him, and 
then when pay day came around and the principal failed to pay, 
which often happened, he would bravely meet the debt himself, 
never shirking under any pretense whatever. He would pay 
security debts as well as his own as long as he had a dollar. 
With all their malice his malignant enemies never, during his 
long life, dared to charge him with personal dishonesty. They 
accused him of nearly everything except dishonesty, drunken- 
ness, and licentiousness, but never of these offenses. 

When Landon C. Haynes became an editor in the little town 
of Jonesboro, as before stated, a long and bitter editorial quarrel 
followed between him and Mr. Brownlow. Finally the latter 
drove him from the editorial chair, and he betook himself to the 
practice of law, where he became a rather successful lawyer. 

In the spring of 1849 Brownlow determined to move his paper 
and family to Knoxville, which was a much larger place than 
Jonesboro. It was the commercial and political as well as the 
geographical center of East Tennessee as it is to-day. Scarcely 
had this been accomplished before he got into a long and bitter 
quarrel with the Knoxville Register, an old Whig paper, of good 
standing, whose history ran back to 1816. The Register had 
back of it four or five, or more, strong and wealthy stockholders. 
The controversy which followed was the most severe and des- 


perate one Brownlow ever had. It became personal in the ex- 
treme. For years, day after day, these papers teemed with the 
bitterest denunciations. At one time it was determined, in his 
temporary absence in the country, to destroy Mr. Brownlow's 
paper by violence, but his friends rallied to its defense and the 
purpose was abandoned. After a long and sometimes apparently 
doubtful struggle, Mr. Brownlow triumphed. He succeeded in 
making his paper the organ of his party. Long before 1860 
the men who had conducted this controversy with Brownlow 
had ceased to be Whigs and had gone over to the Democratic 
party. When the time for secession had come, they all naturally 
joined in that movement. 

The men who were thus engaged in this controversy with 
Brownlow were men of wealth, talents, and high social position. 
One of them was John H. Crozier, who belonged to one of the 
oldest families of Knoxville. He was a lawyer by profession, a 
man of culture and wide intelligence. On the stump and at the 
bar he was a fluent and pointed speaker. At an early age he 
served as a member of the Legislature. In the canvasses of 
1840, 1844, and 1848 he took an active part on the stump in 
behalf of the Whig party. In 1845 and 1847 he was elected a 
member of Congress, in which body he served with credit to 
himself and the district. He was a keen debater, an original 
thinker, and a strong, vigorous writer. 

James and William Williams were two more of this combina- 
tion arrayed against Mr. Brownlow. These men were educated, 
wealthy, and also belonged to an old family. The wealth they 
inherited was increased by shrewd business enterprises. They 
were both men of talents and possessed a high degree of intel- 
ligence. James Williams was especially noted for his ability. 
During the administration of Mr. Buchanan he was appointed 
and served as minister to Turkey. 

The fourth person of the combination I have referred to was 
William G. Swan. He was perhaps the most talented and versa- 
tile, as he was certainly the boldest and most original thinker 
of the four. In point of ability he was no ordinary man. In 
1851 he was elected Attorney General and Reporter of the 
State. Three or four years before the Avar he and John 
Mitchell, the celebrated "Irish Patriot," who had escaped from 
a confinement in the penal colony of Great Britain in Van Die- 
man's Land, started and edited a violent and extreme Southern 


paper in Knoxville, called The Southern Citizen, in which, 
among other things, thej advocated the reopening of the African 
slave trade and a dissolution of the Union. About the year 
1857 INlr. Swan was appointed by Governor Johnson Circuit 
Judge to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Judge James M. 
Welcker, which office he filled with ability and dignity. When 
the war came on he became in action what he had been in prin- 
ciple for a long time, an earnest secessionist. In 1861 he was 
elected to the Confederate Congress from the Knoxville district, 
defeating John Baxter, one of the most prominent Union leaders 
of a few months previous, and was re-elected in August, 1863. 

These four men, forty years ago, were exceptional in ability. 
Their influence was great; their power immense. They wielded 
potent pens. Mr. Brownlow never had such a powerful combina- 
tion of able and wealthy men arrayed against him. They were 
determined to destroy him. It was a merciless fight for political 
existence. In addition, Mr. Brownlow was sued for libel in the 
courts. He was also indicted in nearly every county in the 
judicial district for the alleged violation of an old forgotten and 
obsolete penal statute against advertising lottery schemes. 
With unshrinking courage he met all these attempts to destroy 
him, and bravely dared his enemies to do their worst. Nearly 
any other man in the United States would have been over- 
whelmed, crushed, and driven out of the country, for that finally 
became the object of these men. After a few years, however, 
the triumph of INIr. Brownlow became complete. He was not 
destroyed, but made stronger. His enemies were silenced and 
driven from the field while he remained victor. After vindicating 
the supremacy of his paper as the party organ of East Tennes- 
see, he maintained this position in comparative peace up to the 
time of the breaking out of the Civil War. His paper daily 
grew in popular favor, and its circulation was greatly widened 
and increased. To meet the demands of the times he issued a 
tri-weekly as well as a weekly. At the commencement of the war 
its circulation had reached about 14,000 copies. This was enor- 
mous for a little interior town of about three thousand inhabi- 
tants. It went into every State and territory. Mr. Brownlow, 
for the first time in his life, now commenced making money. 
But the war soon put an end to this. In 1862 his press was 
confiscated by the Confederate authorities and sold. 

It does not lie within the scope of this work to write biog- 

notablp: i\ien of Tennessee m 

raphies or enter into details, but merely to give sketches of noted 
individuals connected with the great loyal movement in East 
Tennessee in 1860-61. It is in this instance particularly my 
purpose to trace out the causes of the remarkable influence exer- 
cised by Mr. Brownlow on the people of East Tennessee in this 
great crisis, rather than give the details of his life. 

Why did this man have and retain till his death such a hold 
on the hearts of the people.'' There must have been strong and 
sufficient reasons for this remarkable influence. Like Mr. John- 
son he had no wealth, no powerful connections to build him up. 
Until 1862 or 1863, when he made some money by his latest 
book and by lecturing in Northern cities, it was almost literally 
true that he had accumulated nothing by his thirty years of in- 
cessant activity and toil. This influence, then, did not arise 
from extraneous circumstances, but was something personal to 
the man himself. 

Perhaps no individual could be named in this country whose 
home character was so unlike that which he had among 
strangers. Seldom has any man lived who so constantly and 
so persistently presented to the world a false and distorted pic- 
ture of himself, while the genuine picture was seen only by those 
who were near him. He seemed to delight in creating on the 
minds of strangers at a distance the most unfavorable im- 
pressions ; in presenting a false and exaggerated, not to say a 
revolting, idea of himself. Those who did not know him, and 
judged him from his writings and speeches, would have sup- 
posed his heart was a boiling cauldron full of all evil passions 
envy, hate, revenge, unforgiveness, and murderous intents. They 
could not have believed that the sunshine of peace and good will 
ever rested on his rugged and tempestuous brow, but that it was 
always covered with storms and dark clouds. When he wrote 
he dipped his pen in gall. He seemed to delight in a pande- 
monium of strife and storm and raging passion. 

Yet, nothing could be more unlike than his apparent and his 
real nature. As a matter of fact, he was far from bitter and 
malignant. But few men had so much good will, such kindli- 
ness, such sympathy, such deep and universal charity. True, 
at a real or a fancied offense, he flared up in a tempest of wrath- 
ful indignation. He poured forth a flood of angry and terrible 
words. But that was the last of the matter unless tlie offense 
was repeated. He would laugh heartily, not in a mocking spirit, 


but in the utmost good nature over what he had said. By that 
time all anger had passed away and he was ready for peace. 
The offer of reconciliation was never declined by him. On ac- 
cepting peace he neither asked nor granted terms. The quarrel 
was treated as a thing that had never existed ; the reconciliation 
was sincere and complete; there was no looking backward. 
There was never a time in his life, in my opinion, when he would 
not have met the friendly approaches of his bitterest enemies 
half way ; indeed, more than half way. His pride and haughty 
spirit would have kept him from taking the first step, but when 
taken by his enemy he would have met the offer in the most 
sincere and generous manner. Even his long and bitter quarrel 
with Andrew Johnson, the most malignant one of his life, which 
lasted more than twenty years, had nearly died out on his part 
long before 1861, so that the reconciliation of these two strong 
men, when it took place, was a mere matter of form, and without 
a word of explanation. 

It often occurred to me, as it may have done to others who 
knew Mr. Brownlow thoroughly, that much of his fierceness and 
bitterness was assumed for effect. I could not credit the fact 
that a man who was so mild and gentle in private could be so 
terrible and so bitter as he appeared to be sometimes, even over 
a very moderate provocation. It gave him notoriety, made peo- 
ple talk about him, and caused his paper to be read. Besides, 
he enjoyed the excitement, the "hurly-burly of battle." I do 
not mean that he was not a sincere man, for he was in all things 
one of the sincerest, despising all deceitfulness and duplicity. 
IMaking allowance for the necessity laid on all party organs to 
support the principles of their party, it may be affirmed that 
he would advocate no measure which he did not believe to be 
right. Fortunately the harness of party is always adjustable, 
so as to fit nearly all persons. As we shall see hereafter, so 
great was Mr. Brownlow's devotion to what he thought right, 
that he had the courage more than once to separate for the time 
being from his party and stand for a while almost alone. In 
writing in the tumult and excitement of the moment he often 
used stronger language than he would have done in his calmer 
moments. He was hurried forward by the impetuosity of a 
mighty current of feeling and thought, which overleaped all due 
bounds and often carried him beyond the confines of cool reason. 
But he felt and believed all he said at the time. In all im- 


passioned intellects, which act under the strong impulse of sin- 
cere conviction or of genius, there is a natural tendency' to over- 
coloring and exaggeration. They see strongly, feel strongly, 
speak strongly. Mr. Brownlow was an excellent illustration of 
this truth. Under excitement his was a tempestuous, stormy 
nature, with powerful convictions. 

Strangers, judging Mr. Brownlow by his writings, would 
most likely have supposed him to be cynical and disagreeable. 
Most erroneous impression. On the contrary he was warm- 
hearted, genial, and delightful. No stranger, perhaps, ever 
spent half an hour with him without an agreeable surprise, for 
instead of meeting a ferocious mastiff, as he perhaps expected, 
he met the kindest and the gentlest of men. It was a great mis- 
take to suppose that he was an irritable and ill-natured man. 
As a general rule, in his daily intercourse with men, he was far 
beyond most men, mild, gentle, and good-natured. Under cir- 
cumstances when most men would have given way to wrath, he 
was patient and forbearing. It Avas only when an insult was 
offered, or a wrong done him, that his temper flared up and the 
lightning flashed from his electric mind. In the family circle he 
was especially remarkable for his mildness and even temper, and 
it was the rarest thing for him to bo out of humor. In fact, in 
amiability and patience he was in a high degree uncommon. 

As a companion, rarely had he an equal. He abounded in, in- 
deed overflowed with, humor, wit, anecdote, kindliness, and cheer- 
fulness. Ever^'body delighted to be with him. Men naturally 
flocked around him. His personal magnetism was phenomenal. 
Without an efi'ort, without desiring it, without thinking of it, 
without caring for it, he unconsciously stole away the hearts of 
men. His kindness to all around him, at all times, was perhaps 
his most striking characteristic, and he made no distinction 
between the high and the low, all alike being treated kindly. 
Literally it was almost an impossibility for him to say no to any 
request whatever, his heart responding affirmatively to every 
appeal for help or sympathy. During the greater part of his 
life he was kept in the depths of poverty by appeals for help 
and by his inability to say no, becoming security for all who 
called upon him. During all his life his house was open to all 
who chose to enter as abiding guests. It was the regular home 
of all the Methodist preachers and their families who happened 
to pass his way. In fact, it was a free tavern for all persons. 


With few words and no ostentation, guests were made to feel 
perfectly at home. They came in when they pleased and de- 
parted when it suited them. Mrs. Brownlow, his faithful and 
noble wife, contributed by her never-failing kindness and 
gentleness to set all guests at ease the moment they entered the 
house. An earnest man and earnestly at work, Mr. Brownlow 
had no time for ceremonies. His manners, his tastes, his habits 
were all most simple. He was the least demonstrative of men 
no gush of words, no compliments. Yet men saw in that plain 
man an original genius, a born leader and hero, and a true 
friend of humanity. 

Another striking trait in the character of Mr. Brownlow was 
his generosity. Had he possessed large means, he would have 
been princely in liberality. He never turned away the poor empty- 
handed. His sympathy for the suffering was sincere and in- 
tense. One winter, in Knoxville, while a deep snow lay on the 
ground, there was suifering among the poor in his neighbor- 
hood. Learning this fact, he laid in a supply of food and went 
around and distributed it with his own hands. When the 
cholera visited this city in 1854, and almost decimated the popu- 
lation, instead of fleeing for safety, with a sublime and noble 
courage, he gave himself for nearly a month to the work of 
nursing and ministering to the sick and the dying and in bury- 
ing the dead. 

It is equally a mistake to suppose that Mr. Brownlow was 
revengeful or unforgiving. His malice, except under extra- 
ordinary wrong, lasted only during the heat of passion. It was 
as brief as it was violent. Hence it so often occurred in his life, 
that men whom he had abused with the utmost ferocity became 
his warmest friends. While it lasted his wrath was terrible, but 
he knew how to forgive. Mr. Brownlow was too magnanimous 
for anything mean or dishonorable toward even his worst 
enemies. Although stealthily waylaid and assailed by would- 
be assassins in the dark, or from behind, four or five different 
times, with deadly intent, and more than once with nearly 
fatal effect, he never attempted to punish the miserable cowards, 
much less retaliate on them. 

Mr. Brownlow's whole life was spent in the earnest advocacy 
of education, development, and a higher civilization. He was an 
early and constant advocate of railroads and of every material 


improvement. While Andrew Johnson was opposing on the 
stump the construction of the railroad formerly known as the 
East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia road, he (Brownlow) was 
doing all he could to build this great artery in the heart of our 
section, which has proved to be, notwithstanding its illiberal and 
narrow policy, a source of wonderful blessing and prosperity. 
In him law and order, decency and morality, temperance and 
religion, found a stalwart defender. The Bible, the Sabbath, and 
the Sabbath-school, were earnestly upheld by him on all oc- 
casions. At no time did he, in any way, or by any word, 
pander to, or smile at, the sneering assaults made upon the Bible 
and on our holy religion, by pretended wise men in his day, 
and notably in later days, the poisonous influence of which is 
now pouring like a flood on this generation. On the contrary, 
he stood, as it were, with drawn sword, ready to defend these 
holy things against all comers. Until enfeebled by ill-health, 
he always attended church on the Sabbath day, either in town 
or the country, thus manifesting by his example as well as by 
his words his reverence for sacred things. In a word, on all 
moral questions, he was in harmony with the most advanced 
thought of the age, except on slaver3^ On this question the 
despotism of Southern sentiment held him as it did thousands 
of good men, in its iron fetters, until the Civil War came on. 

Mr. Brownlow physically was a remarkable specimen of 
splendid manhood. In stature he was tall, erect, round, and 
symmetrical. He was full six feet high, and weighed about 
175 pounds. In his prime, few men presented a more manly 
form. Robust and athletic, in perfect health, it naturally fol- 
lowed that his power of endurance was remarkable. Labor 
did not seem to exhaust him, and there was no limit to his energy. 
He was always active and at work. Whatever he undertook 
was done with rapidity. His frame was vital with energy and 
force, and there was not a sluggish faculty, member, or impulse 
in his whole being. 

This country has produced few men so absolutely unique 
as Mr. Brownlow. He was like his fellow men in all respects ; 
was in full harmony with them, and yet he stood out among 
them with a distinct individuality. He was original and still 
not odd. He was distinct, and yet not eccentric. He thought as 
other men, and acted, in most respects, as other men, but in all 


these manifestations there constantly flashed out that peculiar 
intensity which made him different from all other men. It was 
his individualism that distinguished him from all the world. 

Mr. Brownlow was to his friends, and to the body of the 
people who came within his magic spell, irresistible. Men fol- 
lowed him as if impelled by a strange fascination. 

The retentive power of Mr. Brownlow's mind was remarkable. 
It never seemed to lose anything. Whatever entered it was held 
by an iron grasp. This made him a fearful antagonist. He 
could at once recall all he had ever known in reference to the 
record and life of public men. If he became engaged in a con- 
troversy with any one of them, if there was a weak spot in that 
man's armor, either political or personal, an arrow was sure 
to reach the vulnerable point. He preserved carefully all let- 
ters received and all important documents. I have recently been 
furnished by his son. Colonel John B. Brownlow, with two letters 
written b}' me to him as early as 1847. 

It was easy for friends to persuade Mr. Brownlow to do any- 
thing that did not violate his sense of right ; to force him was 
impossible. A child could lead him ; a giant could not drive 
him. When his mind was once made up, it was as immovable 
as the mountains. In decision of character he was phenomenal. 
Never debating long about anything, his mind acted quickly. 
Almost instantaneously he saw his way. While others were de- 
bating he had decided and was acting. At Barboursville, Ky., 
in November, 1863, during the siege of Knoxville by the Con- 
federate forces under General Longstreet, a number of refugees, 
among them Baxter, Netherland, Fleming, myself, and others, 
were debating one morning whether they would remain in that 
little town, shut off from all communication with the country 
and await the result of the siege, or go on to Cincinnati, two 
hundred miles distant, where they could get the news. The 
council was undecided in opinion. Mr. Brownlow listened, but 
said not a word. Finally he arose and commenced packing 
his things. Some one asked him what he meant. Without stop- 
ping he replied, "I am going to start at once for Cincinnati." 
That broke up the conference. In half an hour all that dis- 
puting crowd, except one, perhaps, was on its way to Cin- 
cinnati, with Mr. Brownlow in the lead. More than once I have 
seen him in consultation with friends as to what should be writ- 


ten for his paper on some particular point. He would listen 
attentively for a while to all that was advanced, saying nothing 
himself. Finally he would hurriedly seize his pen, and commence 
writing, having decided the matter for himself. 

Mr. Brownlow was not a great public speaker; and yet but 
few men could draw such crowds or so hold their undivided 
attention. In this respect, as in respect to nearly everything 
about this remarkable man, there was a magnetic power about 
him possessed b^' but few men. He was not eloquent, there 
was not a flower of rhetoric, not a single effort for mere 
effect in all his speeches. They were plain, strong, concise. 
Nothing could be more pointed, or more clear than his sen- 
tences, which were fairly heavy with thought, without a surplus 
word. He drove straight home to the center. His utterances 
were sharp, incisive, going to the very marrow of controversy. 
His voice was loud and could be heard at a great distance. 
He spoke with great deliberation and measured every word. 
While uttering his most terrible threats, he was as calm and com- 
posed outwardly as when sitting in his office talking to a 
friend. Indeed his absolute composure under the most ex- 
citing circumstances was one of his peculiarities. He never 
lost presence of mind nor self control. In 1852, I heard a so- 
called political discussion, but in fact a personal quarrel, be- 
tween him and General Thomas D. Arnold, who was for a gi'eat 
many years well known in Tennessee as an anti-Jackson man 
and a Whig, and mIio for two terms had been a jNIember of 
Congress. Arnold had but few equals in wit, sarcasm, and 
personal vituperation. For nearly one hour he poured out a 
stream of abuse on Brownlow, in the bitterest and most taunt- 
ing manner, with the most defiant spirit. During all this time 
Brownlow stood perfectly cool and collected, only occasionally 
smiling good naturedly at the worst parts of the speech. AVhen 
the storm of words had spent its fury, then, that calm man 
proceeded in his rejoinder, in a deliberate manner, to make 
one of the riiost terrible diatribes ever uttered on the stump. 
Yet these two men were not badly matched. 

With all his extravagance of utterance, even in the very midst 
of the vehemence and fury of passion, his mind was as cool 
and as deliberate as if addressing a Sabbath-school. There 
was no hurry, no flurry, no violence of manner. Each word, 


each sentence was weighed as carefully, apparently, as if he 
had been under the sanction of an oath. He was calm, col- 
lected, and deliberate even in his most bitter harangues. Never 
have I seen a mind so cool as his when under the influence of 
overpowering excitement. He stood as motionless as a statue 
when hurling against his enemies his most terrible denunciations. 
No provocation, no taunt, no jeer, could ever disturb or unsettle 
the perfect balance of his mind. There was no tremor on his lips, 
no quaver in the voice, no wild gesticulation. His voice, however, 
was full of terror, and sounded like the roar of an enraged 

There was never any confusion in the words and ideas of 
Mr. Brownlow no halting, no hesitation. He knew what he 
wanted to say and he said it in the clearest and most concise 
manner. As the words dropped from his lips, they were ready 
for the press. So clearly did he see things, that his ideas at 
once drew around them the appropriate drapery of strong and 
vigorous speech. Before he lost his voice, in 1861-62, he spoke 
often, and alwaj^s with marked effect. He was in fact a very 
powerful speaker. 

Judging Mr. Brownlow by his photographs and pictures, 
which are generally correct likenesses, it would be supposed that 
he was a sour, stern man, yet nothing could be further from the 
fact. He was not stern ; he was not sour. Good nature and 
kindly humor bubbled up from his heart as naturally as springs 
bubble up from the hillsides of his own loved East Tennessee. 
They were spontaneous and never ceasing. His humor was 
harmless and innocent. There was no sting, no poison in it. 
In his better days of health and robustness, his good natured 
humor was incessant. Sometimes it was grotesque ; often it was 
a surprise, but always refreshing, cheerful, and kind. The fol- 
lowing anecdote will illustrate how grotesque and unexpected 
his humor sometimes was. 

One afternoon, in December, 1863, a number of gentlemen of 
whom I was one, were returning with him from Cincinnati, to 
their home at Knoxville, and Avere stopping for a night at a 
comfortable country inn near the foot of the "Big Hill," south 
of Richmond, Ky. The party had eaten their supper and had 
gone to their rooms to talk and smoke. Mr. Brownlow had 
undressed very early, as was his custom, and had gotten into 


bed. He closed his eyes and seemed to be asleep, but in fact was 
wide awake. He often did this when he did not wish to be 
bored with tiresome company. To his intimate friends this was 
the signal for fun and frolic and anecdote telling, which I have 
known to keep up until after midnight. 

On this evening about the time he lay down a large Kentucky 
farmer of a genuine type, free and easy going, drove up to 
stay all night. He had just been to market and sold his 
surplus farm stock for a good sum in cash. Naturally he was 
feeling good. He had with him what no good Kentuckian 
ever travels without, a bottle of old Bourbon, which he had not 
neglected that raw evening. Soon after entering the inn he was 
told that the "celebrated Parson Brownlow" was in the house. 
He said he must see him. The fact that he had gone to bed 
did not stop him. On learning the room he occupied, he bold- 
ly entered and presented himself before Mr. Brownlow, lying 
in bed with his eyes closed. He said, "Is this Parson Brown- 
low.^" The latter, opening his eyes, said that it was. The 
Kentuckian said: "Mr. Brownlow, I heard you were here and 
I just came in to see you. I have been a reader of your paper 
for many years." Here i\Ir. Brownlow in a deep, sepulchral 
tone, said solemnly and impressively, "And a good religious 
paper, too, you have been reading." The Kentuckian was 
co{ifounded at this. He was too polite to deny it, and yet he 
did not quite like the idea of agreeing that Brownlow's paper 
was a "good religious" one. So, after hesitating a moment, 
he drawled out, "Y-e-s, it is a good religious paper, b-ut there 
are for a religious paper some pretty rough places in it, 
too." Mr. Brownlow continued immovable and imperturbable 
until after his visitor left, and then he broke out into a hearty 
laugh at the embarrassment and surprise of his new friend. 

I have somewhere heard this anecdote, perhaps read it in 
some of Mr. Brownlow's early writings : When he was a young 
man he was fishing one Sunday on the banks of a river. A 
Methodist minister passed by and, reprimanding him severely, 
asked him what he was trying to catch. The reply was, "The 
Devil." "What kind of bait do you use.''" said the preacher. 
"A Methodist minister," said Brownlow. 

It can now be seen from a review of the foregoing character- 
istics why Mr. Brownlow's influence was so omnipotent \\'\i\\ 


the great bod}^ of the people in East Tennessee at the breakmg 
aut of the war in 1861. I do not hesitate to affirm as my 
opinion, that in shaping and fixing the opinions of the Whigs 
at that time, in that never-to-be-forgotten contest, he exerted 
a deeper and wider influence in favor of the Union than any 
other man. This he did through his widely-circulated paper. 
The great body of the people loved him almost to idolatry. 
They believed in him, they had confidence in him. 


Fidelity to Friends Newspaper Warfare with George D. Prentice Atti- 
tude' Toward S\a\erjWhig of April 20, ISGl After Battle of Bull 
Run Belief in Long Continuance of War North Had No Conception 
of Spirit of War in South North and South Not Alien Races The 
Covenanter The Merrimac The Dutch, Irish, and German Contin- 
gent Not Surprising Southern Soldiers Won First Victories The 
Puritan Small Farmer. 

One of the striking features in the character of Mr. Brown- 
low w^as bis fidelity to his friends, whom he never betrayed nor 
deserted. With all the tenacity of his strong will, with all the 
warmth of his big heart, he clung to those who had proved 
themselves true to him. He could not do too much for them. 
No sacrifice on his part was too great for them. To promote 
the political fortunes of John Bell he devoted the columns of 
his paper and his best talents for nearly twenty years, never 
wavering in his support until jNIr. Bell, most reluctantly, I be- 
lieve, joined the secession movement after the firing on Sumter. 
They parted in sadness, and not in anger. After that, if Mr. 
Brownlow ever said anything unkind of him, I have forgotten 
it. I witnessed their last interview, which took place in my 
house. It was sad, it was almost pitiable to see Mr. Bell in his 
fallen condition so humble, so stricken with despair. Most 
plainly he saw and felt, as I believe, his fatal mistake. In a 
moment of weakness he had been caught in the toils of secession. 

In working for friends ]Mr. Brownlow was noble, generous, 
and self-forgetful. There was no half-hearted devotion. There 
were two other personal and political friends in whose interest 
he never faltered Meredith P. Gentry and Thomas A. R. 
Nelson. For the former he entertained an enthusiastic admira- 
tion ; for the latter, profound respect and friendship. 

No one who knew Mr. Brownlow ever questioned his high 
courage, both physical and moral, and it was too often tested 
for any doubt. In derision he was called the "fighting parson," 
an epithet calculated to produce an erroneous impression, for 



he was never but once the assailant. In all his rencontres, 
except as just stated, he fought in self-defense. He believed in 
this right, and was always prompt to use the means necessary 
for this purpose. 

There was nothing that was mean or little about him. His 
was a big nature all his instincts noble, his impulses generous, 
his purposes high, his thoughts open as day. No thin disguise, 
no deceitful veil concealed the real man. The world all the 
world knew his inmost mind. Candor, frankness, openness 
marked his whole career. 

No one at this day will question the fact that he was a very 
remarkable man. In many respects he was the most singular, 
not to say striking, character of his generation. His intellect 
was unquestionably of a superior order. No one of mediocre 
intellect could have run his successful career. Successes like 
those achieved by him and Mr. Johnson must rest on inherent 
strength and power. Inferior men, by the aid of favoring cir- 
cumstances, may blaze up for an hour. But here in these men, 
without wealth or education or adventitious aids, there was 
continuous, permanent success. Each step upward was so 
firmly planted as to permit other and higher steps. In the case 
of Mr. Brownlow these successes are all the more remarkable, 
because at no time did he rise by any base, or false, or flattering 
appeals to the prejudices or selfish passions of men. 

The mind of Mr. Brownlow was singularly quick. He saw 
things at a glance, and with perfect clearness. There was no 
haze, no fog, no murkiness in his intellectual atmosphere. His 
ideas were as clear cut as gold coin fresh from the mint. His 
sentences were sharp, crisp, transparent. He aimed right at 
the mark. His thoughts, hurled by his vigorous intellect, went 
crashing through the center, like an arrow shot by the strong 
arms of a skillful bowman. In writing he dashed off his matter 
with the utmost rapidity. His ideas flowed into his mind in 
torrents, but there was no confusion, each thought coming in 
its natural sequence. What he wrote on the hot impulse was 
printed just as he wrote it. There was no correcting nor prun- 
ing. His intellect sifted out the dross as he went, leaving only 
the pure gold. Sometimes his language was rough, but it was 
always strong and ringing. His invective was terrible, falling 
on his victim with crushing, titanic force. In this respect he 


had but one equal in the country the brilliant George D. 
Prentice of the Louisville Journal* 

Many a public man gained a notoriety from Mr. Brownlow's 
pen which he never could have won himself, and generally when 
he got through with a man in these controversies, that man was 
greatly injured in reputation. 

Another instance of the power of Mr. Brownlow in contro- 
versy may be found in that of his last quarrel with ]Mr. Johnson, 
after the latter left the Presidency, of which an account is 
given in the latter part of this sketch. 

Before the war, in common with nearly all Southern men, 
Brownlow was a firm believer in the institution of slavery, 
though not a slave owner. In 1858, in the city of Philadelphia, 
he had a joint debate lasting several days with the Rev. A. 
Pryne on this subject, in which he advocated the justice and 
morality of slavery as well as its economic advantages. At this 
day it is amazing to look back at the false and perverted ideas 
Southern men held at that time on this subject. It is to be 
observed, however, that they were brought up and educated 
from infancy in the belief that slavery was morally right. 

*While Brownlow was Governor of Tennessee, in 1867, the most terrific 
newspaper warfare was carried on by these two men, in their respective 
papers, that ever occurred in this country. It arose in this way : Mr. 
George Baber, a young man on the newspaper staff of Mr. Prentice, 
wrote a short article, only a few inches in length, criticising the adminis- 
tration of Mr. Brownlow as Governor of Tennessee. Colonel John B. 
Brownlow, the eldest sou of the Governor, then a young man also, seeing 
the article, wrote and published in an editorial a very bitter reply while 
his father was in Nashville. When the paper containing this reply 
reached Louisville Mr. Baber was overwhelmed at the difficulty he had 
unintentionally brought upon his principal. He took the article to Mr. 
Prentice in fear and trembling. When the latter read it, he only laughed 
good-humoredly and said he would answer it. At the same time he spoke 
of Mr. Brownlow in terms of friendship and admiration. He accordingly 
answered the article in that style peculiar to him when enraged. Then, 
on the other side, Mr. Brownlow took up the quarrel for himself. The 
controversy grew hotter and hotter, until nothing like it has perhaps 
ever been witnessed in the country. Prentice, after writing and reading 
to Mr. Baber one of his most brilliant articles, laughed most heartily at 
what he had said. He delighted in the noise and roar of battle. In 
this respect Mr. Brownlow was just like him. After writing his most 
furious articles against men, he would shake his head and laugh most 
heartily, as if he had perpetrated a good joke. 

The above facts I recently learned from the lips of the two persons 
who involved their respective principals in the bitterest and most notable 
personal quarrel of that day. They were discussing that controversy in 
my presence in the city of Washington aud laughing over the part that 
each had taken in it. 


Therefore they never questioned the correctness of this behef. 
Indeed, but few men had the courage to do so. To have doubted 
would have fastened the brand of abolitionism on the doubter. 
No stigma was so odious and disgraceful as that of the aboli- 
tionist, and but few men had the courage to incur that certain 
and fearful odium. Mr. Brownlow thought on this subject in 
harmony with the almost universal belief among ministers as 
well as laymen in the South. The Reverend Drs. Palmer, 
Thornwell, Ross, Dabney, and others had defended slavery in 
the pulpit and the press, as Mr. Brownlow did, as a divine 
institution. However, when red-handed war, in the name and 
cause of slavery, clutched at the throat and aimed at the life 
of the nation, the latter, almost alone among all the prominent 
ministers of the South, broke to pieces his idol and turned away 
from it. With him the first, the highest, and the last duty was 
due not to slavery, but to his Government. His first allegiance 
and love were given to the Union, whether slavery should survive 
or whether it should perish. 

Having supported John Bell for the Presidency in 1860 on 
the Constitutional (Union) platform, and being a Whig 
indeed a Federalist nothing was more natural than that Mr. 
Brownlow should have opposed secession after the election of 
Mr. Lincoln. In his paper of November IT, 1860, in an edi- 
torial he said: 

"Let them (the Secessionists) know whenever they meet you 
that as law-abiding citizens, loyal to our blood-bouglit govern- 
ment, you wiU never consent to see our soil ravaged by the 
terrible strife which would result from secession, and on the 
very threshold proclaim your determination to oppose all the 
mad schemes of disunion and to stand by this Union of States. 
* * * Tell these secret emissaries and street talkers that 
you admit the value of cotton as an article of commerce, but 
remind them in the next breath that Kentucky and Missouri 
hemp, as a necklace for traitors, is an article of still greater 
value for home consumption." 

In his issue of April 20, 1861, Mr. Brownlow said: 

"The first shot fired by the rebels will unite the Northern 
States in the battle for the Union, and arm two hundred thou- 
sand men for the conflict." 

Again in the same paper he said: 

"We shall rejoice in the success of American arms over these 


seceding rebels as sincerely as we did in the triumph over the 
Spanish rebels on the bloody plains of Mexico." 

On April 27, he said: 

"Every paper in the fifteen slave States may declare for a 
Southern Confederac}^, and charge the cause of this cruel and 
unnatural war on Lincoln ; we shall deny the fact as long as we 
have our senses, and refuse to the day of our death to go into a 
Southern Confederacy, or to agree that honor, patriotism, or a 
love of country influenced the vile, hypocritical, corrupt, and 
insincere leaders who have plunged the Cotton States into this 

I might quote extracts like the foregoing, almost enough to 
fill a large volume, showing the deep hatred of Mr. Brownlow 
for a Southern Confederacy. 

Let me present some contrasts between the language and 
spirit of three noted men, written in July, 1861, after the great 
battle of Bull Run. The first is from the pen of the great War 
Secretary, Edwin M. Stanton, who had been Attorne}"^ General 
under Mr. Buchanan, but who was at this time a dissatisfied 
private citizen. It is hard to escape the suspicion of a personal 
pique on his part toward Mr. Lincoln because he was not re- 
tained by him in his Cabinet when JMr. Buchanan retired. In a 
letter addressed to Mr. Buchanan, lately President of the 
United States, dated July 26, 1861, Mr. Stanton said:* 

"The dreadful disaster of Sunday can scarcely be mentioned. 
The imbecility of the Administration culminated in that catas- 
trophe ; an irretrievable misfortune and national disgrace, never 
to be forgotten, are to be added to the ruin of all peaceful pur- 
suits and national bankruptcy as the result of Lincoln's 'run- 
ning the machine.' * * * The capture of Washington 
seems now to be inevitable ; during the whole of jNIonday and 
Tuesday it might have been taken without any resistance. The 
rout, overthrow, and utter demoralization of the wliole arm}' is 
complete. Even now I doubt whether any serious opposition 
to the entrance of the Confederate forces could be offered. 
While Lincoln, Scott, and the Cabinet are disputing as to who 
is to blame, the city is unguarded and the enemy is at hand." 

This letter does Mr. Lincoln injustice. That there was weak- 
ness at that time in the prosecution of tlie war admits of no 

*John Van Buren said that ilr. Buchanan sat in the White House like 
a bread-and-milk poultice drawing the rebellion to a head. 


doubt. But Mr. Lincoln was doing all he could. He was inex- 
perienced as his counselors all were. He had to trust the army 
officers, and a war of such immense proportions was new to 
them also. The army had to advance and offer battle before it 
was ready to satisfy the insane clamor of the North. No Cop- 
perhead would have sneered in that dark hour at Mr. Lincoln 
more savagely than Mr. Stanton did. It is not singular that it 
was addressed to James Buchanan. 

The next is an extraordinary letter written by Horace Gree- 
ley, July 29, 1861, and addressed to Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Greeley, 
it must be kept in mind, was a Northern man and a Republican, 
who had done more, perhaps, than any one man in the United 
States, through his great paper, the New York Tribune, to 
embitter the two sections of the country. For weeks before the 
disastrous battle to which he refers, he had, day after day, 
urged an advance of the army at Washington. His battle cry 
had been, "On to Richmond." General Scott, then in command 
of the army, as well as Mr. Lincoln, knew the army was not 
ready to move, but an impatient public, incited and urged on 
by Mr. Greeley and others, clamored until it was deemed best 
to move, though unprepared. The result was the disaster at 
Bull Run, the first important battle of the war. Mr. Greeley's 
letter was as follows : 

"This is my seventh sleepless night yours, too, doubtless. 
* * * Can the rebels be beaten after all that has occurred, 
and in view of the actual state of feeling caused by our late 
awful disaster.? If they can and it is your business to ascer- 
tain and decide write me that such is your judgment, so that 
I may know and do my duty. And if they cannot be beaten 
if our recent disaster is fatal do not fear to sacrifice yourself 
to your country. If the rebels are not to be beaten if that is 
your judgment in view of all the light you can get then every 
drop of blood hereafter shed in this quarrel will be wantonly, 
wickedly shed, and the guilt will rest hereafter on the soul of 
every promoter of the crime. 

"If the Union is irrevocably gone, an armistice for thirty, 
sixty, ninety, one hundred and twenty days better still, for a 
year ought at once to be proposed, with a view to a peaceful 
adjustment. Then Congress should call a national convention 
to meet at the earliest possible day. * * * I do not con- 
sider myself at present a judge of anything but the public senti- 


ment. That seems to me everywhere gathering and deepening 
against the prosecution of the war. The gloom in this city is 
funereal. * * * On every brow sits sullen, scorching, 
black despair. It would be easy to have j\Ir. Crittenden to move 
any proposition that ought to be adopted, or to have it come 
from any proper quarter. * * *" 

Most wisely Mr. Lincoln never answered this remarkable let- 
ter. Now listen to the lion-hearted Brownlow, speaking from 
the heart of the Southern Confederacy from a State in actual 
insurrection surrounded by Confederate armies, and by men 
who sought his life. In his paper of July 13, 1861, he said, 
among other things : 

"This great popular Union heart has thus far admirably 
withstood all such unfavorable influences, and is still stoutly 
braced for the conflict before it. The President calls for an 
army of 400,000 men, and for four hundred millions of dollars 
to put this war through and to crush out this wicked, treason- 
able, hell-bom, and hell-bound rebellion. Congress will grant all 
these men and all this money, and we predict with perfect con- 
fidence that the Government forces will be victorious ; that the 
Constitution and the laws will be upheld; that the wicked and 
corrupt men who inaugurated secession will be overthrown, and 
their names go down to posterity associated only with infamy." 

Again in his paper of July 27, one day after Mr. Stanton's 
letter was written to INIr. Buchanan, and two days before that of 
Mr. Greeley, just quoted all writing about the same question 
he said: 

"We publish the proceedings of a Peace Convention in West 
Tennessee, composed of delegates from counties voting in favor 
of the Union. The move is to memorialize the two governments 
to terminate the war. We believe it to be a wicked, unnatural 
and uncalled for war that the South commenced it without 
sufficient cause and that it ought never to have been com- 
menced. But strange as it may seem to many of our readers, 
we arc opposed to any sudden or abrupt termination of the war. 

"We have been assured on all hands, by politicians, clergy- 
men, and scores of the people that God is on the side of the 
Southern Confederacy, and that they are therefore bound to 
triumph. We are further assured by the press and the army 
officers that one Southern man can whip five Yankees. We do 
not believe either proposition, and never did, and therefore we 


favor prosecuting the war until we have these controverted 
questions settled. If God be on the side of the Confederate 
troops, we desire to go with them. And if one Southerner can 
wliip five Yankees, we don't want to advocate a Union whose 
troops can't fight. These are questions which ought to be set- 
tled, and this can only be done by carrying on the war." 

How artful is the above, and what a fine vein of sarcasm and 
irony runs through it! 

On August 3, he said in an editorial : 

"Our candid opinion is that the war will not terminate under 
three or four years. * * * The war was inaugurated in 
the South, and by the South, and the whole tone of the Southern 
people and press, and especially of the leading politicians, is 
favorable to a desperate and long-continued conflict. The tone 
of the administration at Washington, the spirit of Congress, and 
of the whole Northern people, is warlike, calling for a vindica- 
tion of the Government and for its maintenance against a rebel- 
lion they believe was not called for. Denounced as vandal hordes 
and stigmatized as cowards, they are resolved upon vindicating 
their honor and giving the world the evidence of their courage. 
The capital of their government they are resolved on protecting, 
or dying within the sacred surroundings thereof." 

It may be mentioned as a curious fact that the brilliant 
Greeley, in the latter part of 1862,* wrote to M. Mercier, the 
French Minister at Washington, suggesting that he should 
secure the mediation of the French Government between the 
contending belligerents in order to put an end to the war. So, 
too, he opened up negotiations for a cessation of the war with 
some irresponsible parties in Canada in 1864, and got himself 
into a rather ridiculous attitude. In fact, he gave Mr. Lincoln 
more trouble than an open enemy of the Government would have 
done. He was so vacillating, so unsteady, not to say so cranky, 
that he was constantly getting out of harmony with the ever- 
determined, level-headed, and unfaltering President. In 18652 
he dismissed Charles A. Dana as managing editor of the New 
York Tribune, because Mr. Dana, as he states, was for vigor- 
ously prosecuting the war, Avhile Mr. Greeley was for peace. 
His paper, from its vast influence with the great body of the 
Northern people, and from the well-known ability of Mr. Gree- 
ley, ought to have been the strongest support of Mr. Lincoln 

*NicoIay and Hay, Vol. VI, p. 83. 


in the prosecution of the war ; but by reason of the vagaries of 
that erratic man it became sometimes an obstruction to the 
national cause. 

It has never been clear to my mind whether the defeat of the 
Federal army at Bull Run was, in the end, a disaster to the 
North or a "blessing in disguise." Did it prolong the war.'' 
Was a disaster needed by the North to arouse it to a sense of 
the magnitude of its danger, and the stupendous task it had on 
hand.P Would a Union victory have disheartened the South and 
broken its spirit.^ Would the Southern Confederacy have com- 
menced falling to pieces after one signal defeat.'' I think I can 
safely say, emphatically no, as to the last two questions. That 
a defeat in the first great battle of the war would have dis- 
heartened to some extent the people of the South can be safely 
affirmed, but it would not have broken their spirit. They would 
have gathered up their strength for a new and mightier effort 
on some other field. They had staked all on the great issues of 
war, and their proud and determined spirit would never have 
yielded with one defeat, however disastrous. Never were men 
braver or more determined. They were animated by an in- 
tensity of feeling and an earnestness of purpose never surpassed 
in the annals of war. This feeling and purpose were shared by 
Jill classes, ages, and sexes. War war until their independence 
should be won became the sole purpose of the whole people. 
Nothing else was thought of, talked of, or dreamed of. Eternal 
war was to be waged until victory crowned their daring efforts. 
No sacrifice of life or of treasure was too costly in order to 
secure this great end. The spirit of this brave people was never 
broken. It finally yielded only to absolute exhaustion, when 
human endurance could bear no more, and when the power of 
effectual resistance had ceased. When Sheridan captured and 
burned the provision trains sent to supply the starving army 
at Appomattox, he conquered Lee. Despair then settled on the 
hearts of the starving men who had never known what fear was. 

On the other hand, it cannot be denied tliat the Northern 
people were surprised and overwhelmed by their defeat at Bull 
Run. To use the language of INIr. Greeley, "there sat upon 
every brow, sullen, scorching, black despair." But they needed 
this defeat. Indeed they needed and got many Bull Runs before 
they realized the greatness of the contest in which they were 
engaged. Never were a people more greatly deluded in their 


opinions as to the war. Mr. Seward assured the Foreign Am- 
bassadors that the uprising would be suppressed in ninety days. 
General Wool, when informed at Fortress ^Monroe of the fall of 
New Orleans, said that that would end the war. 

The people of the North believed that the noise and wild cry 
for war in the South, with the boasted preparations, were mere 
braggadocio the froth and foam of political excitement 
which would soon evaporate and pass away. They had no con- 
ception of the delirious spirit of war which everywhere existed, 
impelling a whole people toward battlefields. They did not 
dream of their deep and determined purpose to achieve inde- 
pendence, or sacrifice all they had in the attempt. They did not 
know, or if they knew, they did not care for the fact that all 
business, all thought of business, was abandoned for the great 
purpose of war. Nor had they any idea of the vast resources 
of the South. They did not dream of the ingenuity and inventive 
genius which necessity would call forth, and did call forth, en- 
abling the Southern people to supply the means and resources 
necessary for the equipment of armies, almost equal to those 
furnished by their own shops and factories, or purchased from 
abroad. They had no conception of the bravery and endurance 
which the well-reared and luxurious Southerner would manifest 
in sustaining a cause as dear to his heart as life itself. They 
had no conception either of the vast supplies of grain and pro- 
visions which Southern fields could furnish. They did not dream 
that the delicate sons of Southern planters, accustomed only to 
ease, luxury, and pleasure, would make as good soldiers as ever 
went into battle ; that they could live for days at a time on half 
rations composed of food such as would have created a mutiny 
in a Northern army ; that they could endure hardships, fatigues, 
and privations such as were never surpassed. And back of all 
this the Northern people did not know, and could not realize 
the fact, that the women of the South, both young and old, high 
and low, were urging on their fathers and sons and brothers 
with an enthusiastic spirit scarcely ever known in history. The 
men who would not fight in such a glorious cause for the rights 
and the liberties of the South were denounced by them as 
cowards, recreants, and traitors, worthy only of infamy and 
dishonor. In fact, the earnest spirit of the people of the South 
in defense of their supposed rights was not understood by the 
North until the war was half over, and even then it was not 


wholly understood. Never were a people more earnest, more 
determined, and, for the most part, more honest in fighting, 
not only for their independence, but for their liberties likewise. 

The people of both sections sadly misunderstood each other. 
The North miscalculated, as we have pointed out, tlie spirit and 
the determination of the people of the South. The Southern 
people, on the contrary, greatl}' undervalued the courage of the 
Northern people. They believed honestly that Northern men 
would not fight. The boast and the claim were everywhere made 
that one Southern man could whip five Yankees. 

Why the Southern people should have been so infatuated is 
incomprehensible. It would seem that history and a little reflec- 
tion ought to have taught them better. The Northern and tlie 
Southern people were, for the larger part, of substantially the 
same blood and race. While far from being homogeneous in 
sentiment, opinion, and in customs, they were not so unlike as to 
make them two distinct peoples, as are the English and the 
French. There had been at all times, since the settlement of 
the colonies, a considerable intermingling of the people of the 
two sections. Northern people had come South, and Southern 
people had gone North, and especially into the Northwest. 
Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa received a large percentage of 
their population from Virginia, Kcntuck}', and Tennessee. There 
were entire neighborhoods in Illinois composed of Tennesseeans. 
Kansas was largely settled by people from Missouri, Kentuck}', 
and Tennessee. The dominant race in Pennsylvania to-day, the 
Covenanters, commonly called the Scotch-Irish, and perhaps in 
New Jersey and Delaware also, as well as a large clement in 
New York and Ohio, is the same race that is so large and influ- 
ential in Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North and South Caro- 
lina, and in Georgia, and indeed in all the Southern States. 
This race molded and fashioned the institutions of North Caro- 
lina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and perhaps 
had the largest influence of any race in the same direction in 
Virginia. From the busy hives of those States, for more than 
fifty years, had poured toward the West a constant stream of 
Covenanter blood. The Puritan and the Covenanter, and to 
some extent the Cavalier, had met (in the West) on tlie same 
great theater of activity and enterprise, and had become a 
homogeneous people. The Dutch of New York and the Ger- 
mans of Pennsylvania had, along with the Covenanters, found 


their way in considerable numbers into Virginia and Tennessee, 
while the Puritan had gone everywhere, and was to be found 
everywhere, at the opening of the late war. 

Thus the people of the North and the South were largely of 
the same blood, except in New England, when our great Civil 
War broke out, and they were in no sense alien races. It is 
especially to be noted that the Covenanter that hardy, tena- 
cious, brave people, who never yielded, never turned back, but 
always went forward to the full accomplishment of its purpose 
was scattered everywhere throughout the South, and through 
the North and the Northwest, and was to be found in every 
State and Territory, even in considerable numbers in New Eng- 
land. The whole history of that people their deadly struggle 
for one hundred years with tyrants and priestly bigots in Scot- 
land, their heroic sufferings in Ireland, and their splendid cour- 
age and noble patriotism in the Colonies in behalf of liberty 
bore testimony to the fact that in whichever army they might 
be, whether in that of the North or that of the South, there 
would be unyielding courage and persistent fighting, and that 
the war would never cease until one side or the other was over- 
come by exhaustion. 

Before the North, with almost humiliating subserviency, had 
ceased to dream of concessions and compromises, in 1861, there 
arose in the South, out of chaotic elements, a government work- 
ing in harmonious order, strong and vigorous in its administra- 
tion, and haughty, confident, and defiant in spirit. With almost 
incredible promptitude the^^ organized, equipped, and put into 
the field large armies, led by able generals, and won great vic- 
tories. For nearly four years they waged against nearly three 
times their numbers in population, an obstinate and unequal con- 
test, becoming the wonder and the admiration of the civilized 
world. With scanty material they improvised warships which 
carried dismay into the navy of their great rival. The Merri- 
vwc, hurriedly constructed, swept everything before it and 
caused universal consternation up to the moment of the timely 
appearance of the Monitor, commanded by the daring Lieu- 
tenant John L. Worden, which, after perhaps the most remark- 
able fight recorded in naval warfare, put an end to this work 
of destruction. Confederate cruisers were put afloat, which 
threatened to drive from the high seas the commerce of the 
United States. No merchant ship was anywhere safe from the 


destructive energy and daring of such men as Captain Raphael 
Semmes. It was late in the war before the gallant Captain 
John A. Winslow, in his splendid ship, the Kearsarge, overtook 
the Alabama and challenged her to battle. After a splendid 
fight, in the presence of thousands of spectators who lined the 
French shore, the Confederate cruiser was sent to the bottom 
of the ocean. 

A little recollection of history ought to have dispelled the idea 
that the Northern people would not fight. The racial elements 
of which this people was mostly composed were the Puritans, 
the Covenanters, the Dutch, the Germans, and the Irish. The 
Covenanters, as before stated, had long ago established their 
reputation for courage in their great contest with the crown 
of England, and with a Papal and Episcopal Prelacy in their 
struggle for religious freedom. 

The Irish and the Germans were everywhere known to be 
brave. The Dutch were the descendants of the brave men who, 
under the lead of William the Silent, had made the grandest 
fight for freedom recorded in all history against the immense 
power of Phillip II of Spain, finally ending in the independence 
and the establishment of the Dutch Republic. The Puritans, 
too, had a history resplendent with deeds of noble courage. It 
was the untrained plowmen of New England, with a courage 
scarcely ever surpassed, who stood the first shock of the Revolu- 
tion and made the names of Concord, Lexington, and Bunker 
Hill immortal. 

It was the descendants of these several historic people, scat- 
tered from Maine to the Pacific Coast, which the Southern 
leaders challenged to battle. When the war opened they were 
engaged in the peaceful pursuits of life and wholly unused to 
war. Never, perhaps, were a people in feelings, thoughts, and 
habits less prepared for martial pursuits. A majority of them 
were small farmers engaged in tilling the soil. Others were 
tradesmen, mechanics, and laborers. But in them still lingered 
the spirit, though dormant for the time, of their ancestors. 

It was no surprise that Southern soldiers won the first battles 
of the war. They possessed more dash, and were more im- 
petuous than Northern men. In the sense of the word as used 
in the South, they had a keener sense of honor more spirit, 
more chivalry. They were accustomed to fights and duels. An 
insult was sure to be followed by a blow, or must be avenged on 


the field of honor. The spirit of chivalry was a part of the life 
of the Southern gentlemen. The laws of honor were next in 
their hearts to their religion. To fail to resent an insult was a 
perpetual disgrace. They were ready for any danger, for the 
most daring enterprises. They sighed for glory in politics or in 
war. Such were the majority of the Southern people. They 
were brave, generous, and magnanimous. While fond of luxury 
and magnificence, these were as dross in comparison with honor 
and glory. They were intense in feeling, earnest in opinion, 
and prompt in action. Wealth and luxury were only stepping- 
stones on which to mount to power and position. They had a 
contempt for what Senator Hammond of South Carolina called 
the "mudsills" the mechanics and laboring men of the North. 
The Puritan was in the estimation of the South the synonym of 
abasement, selfishness, and hypocrisy. The shoemakers of Lynn 
and the cotton and wool spinners and weavers of Lowell were 
base churls, with no manhood, no spirit, no courage. I am 
happy to say that the South has no such feeling to-day. 

The Puritan was supposed to be the type of the Northern 
people. He was the representative of perhaps the largest class. 
In temperament he was patient, tenacious, and resolute. In 
action he was persistent, never turning back, but always moving 
forward with steadiness of purpose toward the aim and object 
of life. With constant assiduity he pushed forward new enter- 
prises, fostered education and science, and encouraged develop- 
ment and progress. 

He settled the wilderness and embarked in commerce on the 
high seas among the nations, gathering treasure from every 
part of the globe. Wherever a dollar was to be made, there he 
was found receiving his full share. Like the ram seen in the 
vision, he pushed North and East, West and South. He was 
ready to argue and dispute. He demanded his own, even to the 
last iota. However humble his station, he gathered around 
himself all the comforts and conveniences of life. He read and 
thought and formed his own opinions. Books and newspapers 
and magazines were to be found in every home. He did not deem 
it necessary to fight at every insult. He was long suffering and 
forbearing, but no earthly power could make him yield to wrong 
or give up what he thought was right. Though he was smeared 
with dust and soot, he often possessed a cunning in logic and 
an extent of knowledge that would have surprised and con- 


founded those Avho were disposed to sneer at him. Despised as 
he was by Southern men, he possessed an intelligence, a keen 
sense of right and wrong that made him tenacious in defense of 
whatever principles he had once espoused. When, therefore, he 
went to the battlefield he carried with him convictions so firmly 
rooted in his mind that he was ready to risk his life for them. 
No better material for soldiers could anywhere be found. He 
was guided by a sense of duty and fought for a purpose. 

In estimating the qualities of Northern men for fighting the 
Southern people overlooked these elements in the character of 
the Puritans. They also overlooked the great class of small 
farmers who constituted the largest part of the Northern popu- 
lation. These were the men who constituted at least the larger 
part of all Northern armies. These were men for the most part 
who knew perfectly well the principles and issues involved in the 
war. When trained as soldiers, no men were braver or cooler 
in action. They were wanting in the impetuosity of Southern 
soldiers, but they had quite as much endurance, persistency, and 
determination. It has been said that an army when well trained 
is a machine. It is controlled by one man, guided by one mind, 
and moves as one man. The timid are inspired and carried 
along by the courage of the bravest. So, in battle, the same 
spirit runs along the whole line. It thus becomes a solid 
phalanx, a machine. 

Judging by their past history, why should not the Puritan 
have fought as bravely as the Southerner.^ It was the ancestors 
of these men who wrested the crown from Charles I and sent 
him to the block. It was they who under the lead of Cromwell 
destroyed the monarchy of England and established the Com- 
monwealth. It was the Puritan and the yeomanry of England 
who were fashioned by his genius and iron will into the most 
irresistible body of men seen since the time of the Roman 
Legions under Julius Csesar. Before it the gentry and nobility 
of England under the fiery Rupert were scattered and almost 
annihilated on the field of Naseby. In nearly every conflict, in 
nearly every skirmish, the nobility and higher classes were over- 
come and signally routed by the psalm-singing Puritans. 
Naseby and Marston Moor are the lasting monuments of their 
bravery. Then, as at a later day, they were derided for their 
nasal drawling speech and wild fanaticism. They were sneered 
at as low-born churls, without spirit, without courage, and with- 


out manhood. But when the day of battle came a tremendous 
conviction of right and justice gave them a power and a might 
which nothing could withstand. These were the ancestors of 
the Massachusetts Puritans. 

Come down to a later period ; the Southern people should have 
remembered that the men opposed to them were capable of fight- 
ing by their conduct during the Mexican War. In the bloody 
battle of Buena Vista the soldiers of Illinois, under Hardin and 
Bissell, fought side by side with the soldiers of Arkansas under 
Yell ; of Kentucky under Clay, McKee, and Marshall, and of 
Mississippi under Jefferson Davis. Nor has less honor been 
given to one than to the other. Hardin earned on that battle- 
field by the highest display of courage no less renown than Yell 
and McKee and Clay. He was equally lamented with them in 
his and their sad death on that bloody field of glory. 

Such were some of the traits and characteristics of the two 
great belligerent forces which were arrayed against each other 
in the summer and fall of 1861. The South had been wrought 
up to a furious state of madness. The North was not yet in full 
earnest. It needed more defeats to arouse it from its sad 


Discontinued Publication of Paper, October 24, ISGl Flight of Union 
Men to Kentucky Tboruburg and Perez Dickinson Arrested Brown- 
low Refuses to Talce Oath Abortive Attempt to Escape Into Ken- 
tucky Bridge-burning, November 8, 1801 Brownlow Escapes to 
Mountain Crittenden Offers Passport After Letter from Benjamin 
Brownlow Arrested March 3, 1862, Permitted to Start for Nashville 
Flag of Truce Brownlow Meets Johnson at Capitol. 

Under tlie gloomy conditions pointed out in the foregoing 
chapter, away down in the heart of the South, there was one 
man who realized the situation ; who was not intimidated at 
the appalling dangers hanging over his country, and who still 
refused to bow his knee to Baal. This ^vas W. G. Brownlow. 
In spite of the constant dangers which surrounded him, he con- 
tinued to publish his paper until October 24, 1861. In no issue 
did it waver in his openly declared devotion to the Union. All 
men knew how he stood. In all the secession States his paper 
alone faltered not. All the other Union leaders and papers 
had long since gone over to the support of the Confederacy, or 
had silently disappeared. Let it be kept in mind, also, that the 
people of Tennessee had voted in June in favor of separation 
from the Federal Government ; that every vestige of the author- 
ity of the United States had disappeared ; that it was super- 
seded by the insignia and the power of the Confederacy ; that 
there was a Confederate army stationed at Knoxville, and that 
this point w^as Department Headquarters, with General Zolli- 
coffer in command. Let it also be kept in mind that after the 
battle of Manassas the prospects of a restored Union, viewed 
from a Southern standpoint, were gloomy in the extreme. Mr. 
Nelson had been arrested and silenced. Mr. Johnson and Mr. 
Maynard and other prominent men w^ere refugees in the North. 
The other leaders who had not fled, had become silent, forced 
to do so. Thousands of Union men who had nerved the heart 
and strengthened the arms of ]Mr. Brownlow and his associates 
while the fight was still going on, had fled, or were daily flee- 
ing, for safety to Kentucky. Dr. J. W. Thornburgh had been 
arrested on a charge of treason, and taken to Nashville for 



iinprlsoninent and trial. Mr. Perez Dickinson had also been 
arrested and other arrests were occurring daily. Universal 
gloom, fear, and despondency, like a dark pall, had settled on 
the hearts and minds of the Union people, and the light of 
hope was well nigh extinguished in all their hearts. 

Yet amid all this darkness, Mr. Brownlow still pleaded for 
the Union, still kept the Stars and Stripes floating in defiance 
from his house. On October 12th, the following taunting article 
appeared in his paper: 

"To Arms! To Arms! Ye Braves! 

"Come Tennesseeans ! Ye who are the advocates of Southern 
Rights, for Separation and Disunion ye who have lost your 
rights and feel willing to uphold the glorious flag of the South, 
in opposition to the Hessians arrayed under the despot, Lincoln, 
come to your country's rescue! Our gallant Governor, who led 
off in this State in the praiseworthy object of breaking up the old 
rickety Government in the hands of the Black Republicans, calls 
for 30,000 volunteers, in addition to the 55,000 already in the 
field. Shall we have them? If they do not volunteer, we shall 
have our State disgraced by draft, and then we must go under 
compulsion. Come, gentlemen ! many of you have promised 
that 'when it becomes necessary,' you will turn out. That 
time has come and the necessity is upon us. Let us show our 
faith by our works. We have talked long and loud about 
fighting the L'^nion shriekers and the vandal hordes under the 
Despot, Lincoln. Now we have an opening; some of us have 
even said we were willing for our sons to turn out and fight 
Union men. We have a chance at a terrible array of Unionists 
in Kentucky let us volunteer, and General Sidney Johnston 
will either lead us on to victory, or something else. Come, 
ye braves, turn out and let the world see that you are in earnest 
in making war on the enemies of the South. i\Iany of you have 
made big speeches in favor of the war. Not a few of you have 
attempted to sell the army supplies, and thousands of you are 
willing to stoop to fill the offices for the salaries they pay ; and 
you have been so patriotic as to try to get your sons and 
other relatives into offices. Some of you have hired yourselves 
as spies, understrappers, and tools in the glorious cause, at 
two to four dollars per day! Come, now, enter the ranks, as 


there Is more honor hi servhig as a private. Conic, gentlemen, 
do come, we insist, and enter the army as vohinteers. You will 
feel bad, when drafted, and pointed out as one who had to be 
driven into the service of your country. Let these Union 
traitors submit to the draft, but let us who are true Southern 
men volunteer. Any of us are willing to be Judges, Attorneys, 
Clerks, Senators, Congressmen, and camp followers for pay, 
when out of danger, but who of us is willing to shoulder our 
knapsacks and muskets and meet the Hessians? Come, gentle- 
men, the eyes of the people are upon you and they want to see 
if you will pitch in. This is a good opening." 

An article similar to the above was published by him in his 
paper of October 19th. There were so many prominent men 
in Knoxville who had urged on secession, but who failed to enter 
the army, to whom these taunting, bitter reproaches manifestly 
applied, that a cry of rage was at once raised against Brownlow. 
Believing that he was about to be arrested and indicted, he 
determined to do, what he had all along seen he would have to 
do, that is, suspend the publication of his paper. Accordingly 
on October 2-i, 1861, reinserting the two scathing articles re- 
ferred to above, he bade farewell to his readers in a long 
editorial, a part of which is here given. Never at any period 
in his life did his iron will and heroic courage appear in 
grander outline. In danger of mobs, in danger of assassina- 
tion, in danger of imprisonment, in the midst of all this peril, 
he still held his head aloft, as if def^'ing the thunderbolt. He 
still continued to "cry aloud and spare not." 

I know of nothing in the whole Civil War that equals his 
defiant Avords in the midst of these most appalling dangers. He 
said in his sad farewell issue: 

"This issue of the Whig must necessarily be the last for 
some time to come I am unable to say how long. The Con- 
federate authorities have determined upon my arrest, and I 
am to be indicted before the Grand Jury of the Confederate 
Court, which commenced its session in Nashville on ^Monday 
last. * * * I have the fact of my indictment and conse- 
quent arrest, for this week, from distinguished citizens. Legis- 
lators, and lawyers at Nashville of both parties. Gentlemen 
of high positions, and members of the Secession party, say that 
the indictment will be made, because of some 'treasonable 
articles' in late numbers of the Whig. * * * 


"According to the usages of the Court, as heretofore estab- 
lished, I presume I could go free by taking the oath these 
authorities are administering to other Union men, but my set- 
tled purpose is not to do any such thing. I can doubtless be 
allowed my personal liberty by entering into bonds to keep the 
peace, and to demean myself properly towards the leaders of 
secession in Knoxville, who have been seeking to have me as- 
sassinated all summer and fall, as they desire me to do, for 
this is really the import of the thing, and one of the leading 
objects sought to be attained. Although I could give a bond 
for my good behavior, for one hundred thousand dollars, signed 
by fift}' as good men as the country affords, I shall obstinately 
refuse to do even that, and if such a bond is drawn up and 
signed by others, I will render it null and void by refusing to 
sign it. In default of both, I expect to go to jail, and I am ready 
to start on one moment's notice. Not only so, but there I am 
prepared to lie, in solitary confinement, until I waste away 
because of imprisonment, or die from old age. Stimulated by 
a consciousness of innocent uprightness, I will submit to Im- 
prisonment for life, or die at the end of a rope, before I will 
make any humiliating concessions to any power on earth. 

"I have committed no offense. I have not shouldered arms 
against the Confederate Government, nor the State, nor encour- 
aged others to do so. I have discouraged rebellion, publicly 
and privately. I have not assumed a hostle attitude towards the 
civil or military authorities of this new Government. But I 
have committed grave, and I fear, unpardonable offenses. I 
have refused to make war on the Government of the United 
States ; I have refused to publish to the world false and ex- 
aggerated accounts of the several engagements had between the 
contending armies ; I have refused to write out and publish false 
accounts of the origin of this war, and of the breaking up of the 
best Government the world ever knew, and all this will I continue 
to do, if it cost me my life. Nay, when I agree to do such things, 
may a righteous God palsy my right arm and may the earth 
open and close in on me forever. 

"I shall in no degree feel humbled by being cast into prison 
whenever it is the will of this august Government to put me 
there, but, on the contrary, I shall feel proud of my confinement. 
I shall go to jail, as John Rodgers went to the stake, for my 
Principles. I shall go because I have failed to recognize the 


liaiid of God in the wo\k of breaking up the American Gov- 
ernment, and the inauguration of the most wicked, cruel, un- 
natural, and uncalled-for war ever recorded in history. I go 
because I have refused to laud to the skies the acts of tyranny, 
usurpation and oppression inflicted on the people of East Ten- 
nessee, because of their devotion to the Constitution and the 
laws of the Government, handed down to them by their Fathers, 
and the liberties secured to them by a war of seven long years 
of gloom, poverty, and trial. I repeat, I am proud of my 
position, and of my principles, and shall leave them to my 
children as a legacy far more valuable than a princely fortune, 
had I the latter to bestow. 

"With me life has lost some of its energy having passed 
six annual posts on the Avestern slope of half a century some- 
thing of the fire of youth is exhausted, but I stand forth with 
the eloquence and energy of right to sustain and stimulate me 
in the maintenance of my principles. 

"I will only say, in conclusion, for I am not allowed the 
privilege to write, that the people of this countr}' have been 
unaccustomed to such wrongs, they can yet scarcely realize them. 
They are astounded for the time being with the quick succes- 
sion of outrages that have come to them, and they stand horror- 
stricken, like men expecting ruin and annihilation. I may 
not live to see the day, but thousands of my readers will, when 
the people of this once prosperous country, will see that they 
are marching by 'double quick time' from freedom to bondage. 
They will then look these wanton outrages upon right and 
liberty full in the face, and my prediction is that they will 
'stir the stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.' Wrongs less 
wanton and outrageous precipitated the French Revolution. 
Citizens cast into dungeons without charges of crime against 
them, and without the formalities of a trial by a jury; private 
property confiscated at the beck of those in power; the press 
humbled, nmzzled, and suppressed, or prostituted to serve the 
ends of tyranny. The crimes of Louis XVI fell short of all 
this, and yet he lost his head. The people of this country, 
down-trodden and oppressed, still have the resolution of their 
illustrious forefathers who asserted their rights at Lexington 
and Bunker Hill." 

It would be hard to find in all history a more defiant, a 
more lofty, or a more eloquent utterance than the foregoing. 


Never in all his varied and stormy career did the soul of this 
man flash out with such sublime courage. Well and nobly 
did he say that he would leave his "principles" a legacy to his 
children, "far more valuable than a princely fortune." 

Thus IMr. Brownlovv, in the last number of his paper, pro- 
claimed his love of the Union and his hatred of secession. With 
his last words, he hurled his haughty defiance at the Southern 
Confederacy. To add force and significance to his denuncia- 
tion, and in bitter mockery and derision, he reproduced the 
two previous articles, which had given such deep offense, and had 
driven the insurgent leaders at whom they were aimed to the 
very verge of madness. 

Long after Johnson, Maynard, and Carter Avere safe in the 
North ; long after Nelson had yielded and urged others to 
yield ; after Baxter had yielded and become a candidate for the 
Confederate Congress ; after Trigg had gone North, and all 
others had become silent, and not a voice was heard in all the 
State or in the wide Confederacy, Mr. Brownlow was still 
heard defiantly pleading for the Union, and uttering the hope 
of disaster to the Confederate arms. At last, yielding to over- 
whelming necessity, he mournfully said that "one man alone 
could not fight the whole Southern Confederacy." Never did 
mortal make a more heroic fight. And so strong was he, so 
terrible to his enemies, that to the very last men were afraid 
to lay their hands on him. 

Two or three nights after the last issuance of his paper, I 
bade a mournful farewell to him at his own house, and saw 
him ride off on horseback in the darkness, on his way to Ken- 
tucky, an exile and a wanderer. He had concluded that not 
only was his personal liberty in danger, but his life also. In 
truth his life was in peril every hour. It has always been 
amazing to me that he escaped unharmed. 

Mr. Brownlow was accompanied on his proposed trip by 
John Williams, Andrew Knott, and by James H. Morris. The 
latter was subsequently killed as a Union soldier in the battle 
of Murfreesboro. His plan was to travel at night by unfre- 
quented ways, and pass through some of the gaps in the moun- 
tains North of Knoxville, and thus escape into Kentucky, thence 
to the Federal lines at Camp Dick Robinson. But after making 
one night's journey, and going some distance into Anderson 
County, they had reliable information that the passes in the 


mountains were so carefully guarded by Confederate Cavalry, 
that it would be almost impossible to get through without arrest. 
So in view of this threatening danger, he and his party re- 
turned home. But few persons, perhaps not a half dozen out- 
side of his own faniih', knew at the time, or perhaps ever knew, 
that he had been out of town. 

But something had to be done. His enemies were determined on 
his destruction. Every hour he was in peril. No doubt he would 
have been killed before this time but for two things. First, he 
had influential friends among the Confederates who could be 
relied on to give him notice of danger. Second, his most in- 
veterate enemies were afraid to allow him to be murdered, 
even if they had been disposed to get rid of him in that way. 
So great was his popularity with the Union men, that it was 
feared that his death by violence, would be followed by out- 
breaks and retaliation all over the country. And such no 
doubt would have been the case. Troublesome and dangerous as 
Mr. Brownlow was as an editor, there were few men who were 
so depraved or unwise as to wish him disposed of in a foul man- 
ner. The consequences were too serious for such a thought. 
Much as he was detested by many persons, no one of any stand- 
ing or character in Knoxville would have countenanced any 
violence to his person, much less his assassination. But in times 
of revolution there are always desperate men thrown to the 
surface of society. His danger was from this source. 

After the abortive attempt to escape into Kentucky and his 
return to his home, Mr. Brownlow determined to seek shelter 
in the recesses of the Smoky Mountains, which separate Ten- 
nessee from North Carolina. Accordingly on November 5, 1861, 
he again left home, and made his way to one of the secluded 
coves in these great mountains, where he knew he could find 
shelter and protection among the warm-hearted, loyal moun- 
taineers. And so he did. 

On the morning of November 9th, the country was startled 
by the news that the night before, armed men had attempted to 
burn all the important railroad bridges on the East Tennessee & 
Georgia, on the East Tennessee & Virginia, and on the IMcmphis 
& Charleston Railroads, between Bridgeport, Ala., and the 
Virginia line at Bristol. The two first named were in effect one 
line, 240 miles long, connecting Virginia with the South and the 
Southwest. The attempt to destroy the bridges on these roads 


was successful as to those over the Hiwassee, over Lick Creek, 
over the Watauga and as to two over Chickamauga creek on the 
Atlantic & Western road.* 

The destruction of these bridges had the approval of Mr. 
Lincoln, General McClcllan, and General George H. Thomas. 
The latter, with a few thousand men, had advanced as far as 
London, Ky., near the border of Tennessee, and intended at the 
critical moment to lead his army across the line, at Cumberland 
Gap, and break up all communications by this line between the 
Confederate armies in Virginia and the South and the South- 
west. Men were already on their way to East Tennessee, or were 
selected in the vicinity of the different bridges, to execute the 
plan of burning the bridges on a certain designated night. 
When it was too late to change the time, or countermand the 
orders, General Sherman, for reasons explained elsewhere, 
ordered General Thomas to retrace his steps. Thus the con- 
templated advance into East Tennessee was abandoned. It 
was then too late to notify the men who had been selected to 
destroy the bridges. 

A^ Mr. Brownlow was known to have been away from home 
at the time the bridges were burned, he was very naturally 
suspected of having some agency in or knowledge of the matter. 
The next day or night a squad of Confederate soldiers from 
Knoxville was sent out to hunt him up. But Mrs. Brownlow, 
his faithful wife, learning of this design, got two friends to 
carry the news to her husband that soldiers had been sent to 
arrest him. One of these was Mr. William Rule, then a young 
printer in Brownlow's office, afterwards a brave Captain in the 
Federal Army, and at this time (1899) Mayor of Knoxville, 
and for many years past the able editor of the Knoxville Journal 
and Tribune. These men crossed the Tennessee River in a 
canoe, after nightfall, slipped by the sentinels (for the town 
was then under martial law), procured horses on the other side 
from Mr. Caleb Baker, a wealthy farmer and an ardent Union 
man, and slipped in ahead of the squad of soldiers, and rode 
with all speed to the place where Mr. Brownlow was then 
concealed a distance of forty-five or fifty miles. He had 
preached in Sevierville on the day preceding the night of the 
bridge burning, not knowing what was about to happen. On re- 

*"See "East Tennessee and the Civil War," by the author, for an 
account of the bridge burnings, chap. XVIT, p. 266. 


ceiving notice of the new danger which beset him, he fit once 
retreated some fifteen miles into the midst of the mountains, 
where for the time being he found shelter and security among the 
brave mountain people. 

After remaining in tlic mountains about twenty days he 
quietly returned by night to within six miles of Knoxville, 
where he again concealed himself. While in the last retreat 
he received the following letter: 


Knoxville, Tenn., December 4, ISOl. 
W. G. Brownlow, Esq. : 

The Major General commanding directs me to say that upon calling 
at his headquarters within twenty-four hours you can get a passport to 
go into Kentucky, accompanied by a military escort, the route to be des- 
ignated by General Crittenden. 

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

A. S. Cunningham, 

Acting Adjutant General. 

This letter was caused by one from Hon. Judah P. Ben- 
jamin, Secretary of War at Richmond, addressed to Gen- 
eral George B. Crittenden, who had succeeded General Zolli- 
coffer in command at Knoxville. ]\Ir. Benjamin's letter was 
procured by the representations, or through the influence of 
Mr. John Baxter, at that time in Richmond, who applied to 
the Secretary of War in behalf of Mr. Brownlow. In his letter, 
Mr. Benjamin said: "I cannot give him [Brownlow] a formal 
pass, though I would greatly prefer seeing him on the other 
side of our lines, as an avowed enemy. I wish, however, to say 
that I would be glad to Icarn that he has left Tennessee. * * *" 

Within the twenty-four hours specified in the letter of Gen- 
eral Crittenden, Mr. Brownlow reported in person to General 
Crittenden at his headquarters. A renewal of the promise was 
again made by him. December 7th was fixed as the day for 
starting, or two days afterward. Before the time arrived, 
Mr. Brownlow was arrested by the Confederate ^Marshal, on a 
warrant issued by Robert B. Reynolds, a Confederate Com- 
missioner, sued out by J. C. Ramsey, Confederate States Dis- 
trict Attorney, charging him with the crime of treason "in 
publishing a weekly and tri-weekly paper, known as Brownlow's 
Knoxville Whigy 

On being: arrested Mr. Brownlow sent a note to General Crit- 
lenden, claiming his protection, on the ground that he had 


come in on his promise that he should be sent through the 
lines. This note was answered the next day, after Mr. Brownlow 
had spent one night in jail, by one "Plarry I. Thornton, A. 
D. C." saying: He [General Crittenden] does not consider that 
you are here upon his invitation in such manner as to claim 
his protection from an investigation by the civil authorities of 
the charges against you, which he clearly understood from 
yourself and your friends you would not seek to avoid." 

Now, there was not one word in General Crittenden's letter 
of December 4th, about "an investigation by the civil authori- 
ties of charges" against him. It was a simple promise that 
he should "have a passport to go into Kentucky." The arrest 
and detention afterward for trial by the civil authorities were 
a gross violation of the plighted faith of General Crittenden. 
Gladly would I believe, as I do incline to believe, that he was 
at that time unfit for duty by reason of his habits, and there- 
fore not fully responsible for this wrong. Whatever may 
have been the words used by Mr. Brownlow, the spirit of the 
whole negotiation was that by appearing at headquarters with- 
ui a certain time he should have a passport and an escort to 
Kentucky. Upon that understanding he came in from his con- 
cealment, and surrendered himself to the military authorities. 

Mr. Benjamin, the Confederate Secretary of War, seems to 
have been heartily ashamed of this whole transaction. In a 
letter dated December 22, 1861, addressed to J. C. Ramsey, 
in an effort to defend the honor of the Government, he said, 
among other things : 

"If Brownlow had been in our hands, we might not have 
accepted his proposition, but deeming it better to have him as 
an open enemy on the other side of the lines, authority was 
given to General Crittenden to assure him of protection across 
the border if he came into Knoxville. * * * 

"Better that any, the most dangerous enemy, however 
criminal, should escape, than that the honor and good faith of 
the Government be impugned or suspected * * * but every- 
one must see that Brownlow would be safe and at large, if he 
had not supposed that his reliance on the promise made him 
would insure his safe departure from East Tennessee." 

Whatever may be thought of the acts and words of INIr, Ben- 
jamin on other occasions, these words certainly reflect high 
credit on his sense of honor. 


The day Mr. Brownlow was arrested, Mr. John Williams 
and I hunted up J. C. Ramsey, the Confederate States Dis- 
trict Attorney, and offered to make a good bond in the sum of 
one hundred thousand dollars as security for ]Mr. Brownlow 
to keep him out of jail. Ramsey refused the bond, and ^Ir. 
Brownlow was at once sent to jail, where he remained from 
December 6th until the 30th, He was then released, to be 
immediately rearrested by an officer on a military charge. After 
this time, as he was very sick, he was permitted to remain in 
his own home under the guard of armed soldiers. His release 
from jail was due to the remonstrance and the noble instincts 
of Dr. PVank A. Ramsey, Medical Director of the Confederate 
Army at Knoxville a big-hearted, good man. While he was 
in prison, I visited him once or oftener, and can bear witness 
to the horrible condition of the jail in which ho was confined. 
It was filthy, and without a single feature to relieve it from the 
fitting application of the strongest epithets. It was crowded to 
suffocation, with not a single comfort. There a great number 
of the best men in East Tennessee were crowded together for 
no crimes except being Union men, or being suspected of hav- 
ing had some connection with or knowledge of the late bridge- 
burning. Well do I remember the Rev. Elijah Cate tall and 
remarkable in appearance, with the weight of seventy years 
resting on him, his head white as snow who, it was said, was put 
in prison for cheering the Stars and Stripes as they were borne 
hy his house b}^ some men on horseback. 

Well might the faithful old servant of God burst forth into 
rapturous cheers, in that hour of darkness and despair, at the 
sight, once more, of the dear old flag of the Union, the emblem 
of freedom, now supplanted by a foreign banner. I can well 
imagine the good old man as he espied horsemen approaching 
along the banks of the French Broad, at early dawn, strain- 
ing his aged eyes as he dimly caught a glimpse of an object 
not seen for many a long day, bursting out in joy, and ex- 
claiming in his exaltation : 

"What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, 
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses? 
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam. 
In full glory reflected, now shines o'er the stream ; 
'Tis the star-spangled banner ! O, long may it wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave I" 


The very hills and trees might have clapped their hands 
for joy at this sight. 

Mr. Brownlow was sick and naturally restless, like a caged 
lion in his confinement. He sighed for the freedom of speech, 
and for the freedom of an untrammeled press, in which to utter 
his burning thoughts. His great desire was to get North, 
where his untamed spirit could have that scope and vent for 
free speech, which he had exercised with such wonderful effect 
for thirty years in the mountains of East Tennessee. By his 
confinement in the crowded and loathsome prison, and his ex- 
posure in his wanderings, his wonderful constitution was broken 
down, his nervous system was destroyed and he became pre- 
maturely old and an invalid for the rest of his life. Fearing 
and believing that he was liable to be assassinated at any hour, 
and his friends sharing in this same fear and anxiety, in the 
month of February he determined to make one more effort to 
escape from his prison in his own house. Accordingly, through 
a friend a plan was matured for his escape to the Federal lines 
through the Cumberland Mountains. But in the meantime, on 
February 27th, Mr. Brownlow had appealed to Jefferson Davis 
for permission to be sent out of East Tennessee by way of 
Cumberland Gap or Nashville, as he had been assured he should 
be. On March 2d Mr. Benjamin granted this request and 
Major George H. Monsarret, a high-principled officer, command- 
ing the post at Knoxville, was directed to have that order ex- 
ecuted. Mr. Brownlow had been sick more than two months, 
but feeble as he was, he determined to start on March 3d. Ac- 
cordingly on that day he left his home on the train for Nashville, 
escorted by Lieutenant John W. O'Brien, a cousin of Mrs. 
Brownlow, and accompanied by James P. Brownlow, his son, 
and by Samuel A. Rodgers, one of his truest and best friends. 
These men were all selected by Mr. Brownlow himself. Colonel 
Casey Young, for a number of years, since the war, a member 
of Congress from Memphis, a Colonel in the Confederate Army, 
did all that he could to facilitate the departure of Mr. 

It is due to Mr. Benjamin to say that throughout this whole 
transaction, in reference to Mr. Brownlow, he seems to have 
acted with a regard for honor and humanity. And this is 
certainly true also in regard to the conduct of Colonel Robert 


B. Vance and Major ]\Ionsarret, both of the Confederate 

At lioudon Mr. Brownlow was furnished ten armed men, as 
an escort, under the command of Captain Dill. At Athens 
some Confederate soldiers, on their return to the army from their 
homes, learning that Mr. Brownlow was on the west-bound 
train, made a rush for his car in a hostile spirit, but they were 
held at bay by the guard placed at each end of the car. At 
Wartrace, Middle Tennessee, they found General Hardee in 
command. He refused, on application, to grant a flag of truce, 
so as to permit the party to proceed. So, O'Brien and Rodgers 
were sent to Huntsville, Ala., to obtain the necessary authority 
from General Albert Sidney Johnston. That General issued 
the following order: 

Headquabtkes Confederate District, 

Huntsville, March 7, 1862. 
Lieutenant O'Brien, 

Third Tennessee Regiment. 
Sir : General A. S. Johnson, having just heard that you havo brought 
W. G. Brownlow to Wartrace, as a prisoner, instructs you to return hiui 
to his home, or release him where he now is, as he may elect. 


W. W. Mackall. 

Then General Crittenden was appealed to, and he granted 
the desired flag of truce. Finally, after a detention of ten days, 
the party was allowed to proceed, which it did in private con- 
veyances. The day of their departure was a most anxious one 
for the little part}', now consisting of ]\Ir. Brownlow, and his 
son, James P. Brownlow, INIr. Samuel A. Rodgers, and Lieu- 
tenant O'Brien. It was known that John Morgan's command 
was ranging around through that part of the country, and Mr. 
Brownlow naturally feared to fall in with it. The party drove 
rapidly oA'er a good road toward Nashville. At length it reached 
the Federal pickets. Mr. Brownlow sat in his carriage, still 
sick and feeble, and "wrinkled and drawn up." At the sight 
of the Federals, said Mr. Rodgers afterward, "he seemed to 
swell out and his wrinkles to disappear." He straightened up 
and became himself again. Jumping to the ground he exclaimed: 
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will 
toward all men, except a few hell-born and hell-bound rebels 
in Knoxville." Officers and soldiers, on hearing his name, 


gathered around him, and gave him a genuine soldiers' wel- 
come such a welcome as men seldom receive. 

What must have been his feelings in that hour of his deliver- 
ance! After five months of wandering, concealment, imprison- 
ment, suffering, and sickness ; of uncertainty, danger, and sicken- 
ing disappointment, but of courage and constancy never sur- 
passed, he was at last under the protection of the banner of his 
idolatry. Never did an eagle released from its cage exult more 
in its liberty than did this now unfettered hero of freedom. 
Pausing but a short time, they were again soon on their way, 
driving rapidly toward Nashville. It Avas still daytime when 
the}' reached that place. Stopping at a hotel, Mr. Brownlow, 
with his usual promptitude, at once hurried off to the capitol 
to meet his friends. 

In the capitol a scene was witnessed such as is seldom beheld 
by men. Andrew Johnson, now IMilitary Governor of the 
State, and Mr. Brownlow had been the bitterest of enemies. For 
nearly twenty-five years they had not spoken to each other. 
They had said more bitter, even terrible, things against each 
other than any two men in the land. Now they stood together 
on the side of a common country. They met in the presence of 
a common peril and a threatened overwhelming national calam- 
ity. Civil war had driven both of them from their families and 
their homes. Both were exiles and wanderers. They knew 
not that they should ever be permitted to return to their homes. 
At a moment when the very existence of their government was 
in extreme peril, they were drawn toward each other by 
a bond of common sympathy, common danger, and a common 
love of country. When, therefore, these two strong, brave men 
met, forgetting their past quarrels and hatred, they rushed in- 
to each other's arms, and wept like women.* 

*0n his return from Nashville, Mr. (now .Judge) Kodgers, wlio was 
then and afterward my law partner, and always my faithful and 
trusted friend, related this incident to me. He did not witness it 
himself, but heard it at the time in such a reliable way as to leave no 
doubt of its truthfulness. Too much credit can never be given to him for 
his faithfulness to Mr. Brownlow during all his trials. He exposed his 
own life to the greatest dangers and endured gi-eat hardships in serving 
his friend. Nature has given to the world few as fine men as Judge 
Samuel A. Rodgers. 


In the North Published Book, May, 1862 Jlrs. Brownlow and Mrs. 
Maynard Sent Beyond the Lines Brownlow and Family Return to 
Knoxville, October, 1863 January 9, 1865, Meeting in Nashville 
State Constitution Amended Elected Governor Ku-Klux Bond Is- 
sues Reconstructive Measures Review of Secession Movement. 

After spending a few days in Nashville Mr. Brownlow pro- 
ceeded to Cincinnati, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other cities in 
the North, in each of which he delivered a lecture, giving an 
account of the condition of things in the South. In response to 
an almost universal demand for information in reference to the 
state of things in the insurrectionary States, and especially for 
an account of his own thrilling personal experiences in the 
Southern Confederacy, he began writing a book. 

In May, 1862, two months after he left home, he had his book 
ready for the press. It was entitled "Sketches of the Rise, 
Progress, and Decline of Secession, with a Narrative of Personal 
Adventures Among the Rebels." The book contained 4<58 pages. 
The preparation of it shows the marvelous rapidity with which 
he worked. While he was writing it he was traveling from city 
to city, making speeches and being entertained, and was thus 
diverted from his work in every possible y>'a.y. But he was at 
all times in life too earnest to lose much time in social entertain- 
ments. It is needless to say that wherever he went he was re- 
ceived with demonstrations of welcome and admiration such as 
are usually extended only to Presidents or to great victorious 

By the sale of his book and by his lectures, for the second 
time in life, Mr. Brownlow began to accumulate a little money ; 
from this time until his retirement from the Senate of the United 
States, by the simplest habits and the strictest economy, he was 
able to lay by each year a little for old age. So it is pleasant 
to know that while at best he had only a very moderate com- 
petency his last days were not passed in pinching poverty. The 
smallness of the estate left by him, only a few thousands, was the 
best evidence of his honesty. 

Of course, when Mr. Brownlow left for the North he left his 



family behind, consisting of one son and five daughters, four 
of them of tender age. When accounts of the reception which 
he had received in the North, and of the sensation that his bitter 
speeches were creating were read in Tennessee, they provoked 
great indignation. Accordingly on April 21, 1862, the follow- 
ing order was issued : 

Headquabters, Department of East Tennessee, 
Office of Provost Marshal, 

April 21st, 1862. 
Mrs. W. G. Brownxow, Knoxville. 

Madam : By Ma.ior General E. Kirby Smith I am directed most 
respectfully to inform you that you and your children are not held as 
hostages for the good behavior of your husband, as represented by him 
in a speech at Cincinnati recently, and that yourself and family will be 
required to pass beyoild the Confederate States lines in thirty-six hours 
from this date. 

Passports will be granted you from this office. 

Very resiJectfuUy, 

W. M. Churchwell, 

Colonel and Provost Marshal. 

A similar notice was also served on Mrs. Maynard, wife of 
the Hon. Horace Maynard, and on her family; also on Mrs. 
Andrew Johnson and on Mrs. William B. Carter. At the re- 
quest of Mrs. Brownlow the time of preparation for departure 
was extended three or four days. On the expiration of the time 
granted, Mrs. Brownlow and Mrs. Maynard, with their families, 
were placed in charge of Lieutenant Joseph H. Speed of the 
Confederate Army from Alabama, and sent North by way of 
Norfolk. Lieutenant Speed proved to be an honorable gentle- 
man, and both families were always loud in praise of his kind- 
ness. He left nothing undone that he could do for their comfort. 

Whatever may have been said for or against the practice of 
sending helpless families through the lines to their husbands or 
friends, it was certainly followed more or less by both govern- 
ments. Where such persons were behaving themselves with 
propriety, it was certainly a cruel hardship to be sent away 
from their homes. No one at the time, or since, charged that 
the families who were removed in this instance were not con- 
ducting themselves with the utmost propriety. Both Mrs. 
Brownlow and Mrs. Maynard, as well as Mrs. Johnson, were 
exceptionally amiable and well behaved at all times and under 
all circumstances. In this case it was ungallant, for it was 
avowedly, at least in the case of Mrs. Brownlow, visiting the 
sins of the husband on innocent, helpless women. 


In October, 1863, after the entrance of General Burnside 
with his army into Knoxville, Mr. Brownlow and his family 
again returned to their former home. Soon after his return he 
resumed the publication of his paper, which had been suspended 
for two years, his press having been confiscated. 

In the early winter of 1864! Andrew Johnson, as Military 
Governor of Tennessee, with the approval of Mr. Lincoln, as 
elsewhere shown, took steps to place the State in practical rela- 
tions with the Federal Government, preparatory to its resump- 
tion of its powers and rights as a loyal State. A meeting looking 
to this end was called to assemble in Nashville on January 9, 
1865. In less than two days the work of amending the Consti- 
tution and providing for the re-establishment of the State Gov- 
ernment had been accomplished. The haste of this proceeding 
was in all respects unworthy of the momentous occasion. But 
whether the work of the convention was wise or unwise the result, 
so far as Mr. Johnson was concerned, was what he desired. He 
went back to Washington with the honor of bringing back with 
him one of the States of the Union. In his inaugural address as 
Vice-President he boasted of this achievement. 

Under the new order of things a Governor and a Legislature 
were to be elected in Tennessee. Mr. Johnson was out of the 
way. Who should the new Governor be? Should it be ]\Ir. 
Nelson, Mr. Maynard, Mr. Baxter, or Mr. Netherland, or some 
less noted man? Nelson, Baxter, and Netherland had already 
shown such decided retrogressive tendencies that they were out 
of the question. Under these circumstances Mr. Brownlow was 
urged to become a candidate. After a little reflection he agreed 
to do so. I do not think he had ever thought of this office before. 
He was at that time editing his paper and discharging the 
duties of a respectable office in the Internal Revenue Depart- 
ment with a reasonable salary. As soon as his name was au- 
thoritatively given to the public, so popular was he that no other 
name was thereafter seriously considered. Having received the 
party nomination he was elected as a matter of course. 

The administration of Governor Brownlow was stormy and 
tempestuous beyond anything in our political history. There 
was something in the man, but infinitely more in the times, that 
marked this as the troubled period in our civil history. Had the 
times been quiet, had those lately in insurrection and their new 
allies, who were recently recruited from the Union ranks under 


the guise of Conservatives, showed a more charitable spirit, his 
administration would have been as mild as that of those pre- 
ceding the Civil War, for when not factiously opposed or as- 
sailed he was most conciliatory and peace-loving. On the con- 
trary, he was opposed with ruthless vindictivcness, and all the 
worst elements of society, thrown upon the surface by a four 
years' war, arrayed themselves in opposition to his administra- 
tion. Encouraged by the desertion of President Johnson, bands 
of desperate characters denominated "Ku-Klux" were organized 
in many counties in Middle and West Tennessee, who committed 
outrages on loyal men of the most startling and blood-curdling 
character. In the darkness of midnight they committed their 
terrible deeds. 

Of all the men in the State Governor Brownlow was the last 
to think of tolerating such things. With his Cromwellian spirit 
and will he was the very man for this grave emergency. He 
accordingly dealt in no halfway measures. With the greatest 
promptitude, under the authority of an Act of the Legislature, 
he organized a part of the loyal militia of the State and sent 
them under determined officers, with what instructions I know 
not, into the counties where the Ku-Klux were committing their 
outrages. In a few weeks or months law and order were restored 
and loyal people were once more safe in their homes in the quiet 
hours of the night. The masked outlaws were taught that an 
iron hand held the reins of power in the State. 

His enemies then made, and sometimes still make, a bitter 
outcry against Governor Brownlow and his militia. The only 
answer this deserves is to remind them that these secret outrages 
were the legitimate outgrowth of the war begun by them in 
Tennessee in 1861. When overpowered in the field, and they 
had given their parole of honor to behave themselves as good 
citizens, some of them, in violation of all law and all honor, mani- 
fested a spirit of insubordination in these secret midnight gath- 
erings which no State could tolerate. By their conduct they 
placed themselves above and outside of regular government. 
The law could not reach them. It was a kind of insurrection 
conducted against the peace of the State. The perpetrators 
were masked and kept themselves concealed, and moved only at 
night and in large bodies. Before the light of day appeared 
they dispersed to their homes or secret hiding places after com- 
mitting their terrible deeds. They were bound by dreadful 


oaths. No man dared to testify against them or inform on 
them, and even men who were suspected of an intention of doing 
so, or having done so, were cruelly treated. No jury could be 
found to punish them. Military force alone could reach the evil. 
This Governor Brownlow used. I do not stop to inquire whether 
or not the strict letter of the law was exceeded in its execution.* 
It is sufficient to know that the safety of the people demanded 
the most stringent and severe measures. Salus populi, suprema 
est lex. Nor have I inquired whether Governor Brownlow's acts 
in reference to these things were exactly regular. It is suffi- 
cient to know that these violators of laAV were defying all author- 
ity, and had inaugurated an insurrection too widespread and 
powerful to be put down by the civil authorities ; that the means 
necessary to restore order and security were used, and that the 
troops were withdrawn as soon as organized opposition to law 
disappeared. It may be that these troops in some instances 
exceeded their authority and committed wrongs, and I expect 
they did. But this is an unfortunate incident of all wars. 

Another charge often brought against the administration of 
Governor Brownlow and his party in Tennessee is tliat they 
overwhelmed the people of the State with a large bonded indebt- 
edness. It is true that many bonds were issued under his admin- 
istration, as many had been issued before, but consider the cir- 
cumstances. In coming into power he found the railroads of 
the State worn out and in a state of dilapidation by reason of 
the heavy use they were exposed to during the four years of war. 
No repairs except those absolutely necessary had been made; 
many of the bridges had been burned; the rolling stock was 
mostly gone or worn out. The railroad companies were unable 
to put the roads in order ; an appeal was therefore made to the 
Legislature by these roads for the loan of the credit of the 
State to aid in making repairs. The great interests of the 
State would suffer unless this were done. Therefore, as a matter 
of public policy and duty, many bonds were issued for that 
purpose too many, I freely admit. The assistance thus ren- 
dered was deemed at the time to be an act of sound policy and 
a patriotic duty. In some cases tlie policy adopted was unwise. 
All parties at the time, however, seemed to acquiesce in it, if not 
to demand it. That some of these bonds were afterward dis- 

*See Acts of Extra Session, 1808; Acts of September 10, 18G8 ; small 
volume, p. 23. See Message. 


honestly perverted from the uses contemplated by the Legisla- 
ture, and used for private purposes, as they certainly were, 
proves only that some of the roads permitted these bonds to pass 
into the hands of dishonest agents. A large part, a majority, of 
them were issued to Democratic officers of roads. Besides all this, 
during the four years of war and for nearly two years afterward, 
the interest on our previous outstanding bonds, amounting to 
$5,169,750, had been accumulating. These bonds, beginning in 
1835, had been issued to aid in the construction of railroads and 
turnpikes and for the erection of the State Capitol. The total 
indebtedness at this time was $25,277,406.66. To save the 
credit of the State this accumulated interest had to be provided 
by the issuance of new bonds. Repudiation had not yet been 
introduced into the State, or this interest and these bonds might 
have been settled at a cheaper rate. 

It seems to be forgotten that it had been the policy of the 
State, sanctioned by its Constitution, long before the war, to 
encourage railroads and turnpikes by issuing its bonds or en- 
dorsing those of the companies thus engaged when a certain 
amount of work had been done. I have a statement from 
E. B. Craig, Treasurer, that the State loaned bonds to railroad 
companies prior to 1866 to the amount of $14,006,000, that the 
interest due on these bonds at that date was $3,769,507 ; that 
the State had endorsed "City of Memphis and Railroad Com- 
pany's" bonds for $2,207,000, and that the accrued interest 
amounted in 1866 to $550,680, making principal and interest 
on the liabilities of the State on account of railroads $20,- 

The issuance of bonds after the Avar, and the necessity for 
their issuance, were the direct result of the war, begun in Ten- 
nessee in 1861 against the United States. Except for the 
desolations caused by the war, there would not have been 
the almost universal destruction of the property and resources 
of the State, and the necessity for issuing bonds. 

I state frankly that the Legislature of 1865 and 1867 were 
wild and reckless in granting authority to issue bonds as above 
intimated. I go further and admit that, from the evidence 
brought out subsequently by investigating committees, there is 
almost conclusive proof of corruption on the part of some of 
the members of the Legislature in connection with that legis- 


lation, and in the use of the bonds after they were issued, by 
some of the persons in whose hands they fell. 

Having admitted the errors or the crimes of the Union party, 
let us briefly show the condition of affairs previous to May 

6, 1861. 

That the administration of BrownloAV was strong, vigorous, 
and without any halting feebleness, no one will deny. It has 
always been, and still is, the subject of the most malignant 
abuse on the part of his enemies. It lies not within the scope 
of this work to enter any detailed defense of the legislative and 
administrative measures of the reconstruction period in our 
State. These measures, whatever they were, w^ere at the time 
supposed to be necessary to remedy the widespread destruction 
wrought by those who led the State into war. All of our 
material interests had been destroyed. The State had lost 
its personal propert\\ The taxables had shrunk from $273,- 
327,240 in 1860 to' $214,44.6.24; in 1866. All business was 
suspended ; all enterprises were ended. The State lay like a huge 
body in a condition of paralysis. All intellectual and moral 
development was arrested and turned back. Churches, col- 
leges, and schoolhouses for the most part were deserted and 
closed, and many of them in ruins. Fences were gone. Farms 
were stripped of stock and of farm implements. The factories 
of the State were suspended and broken down. Railroads and 
bridges were all out of repair. Universal desolation prevailed. 
Evils, too, born of and fostered by war, had to be torn up by 
the roots. Widespread degeneracy prevailed in the country. 
A morbid desire to make fortunes either honestly or dis- 
honestly seized the minds of many. Corruption abounded. 
Moral restraints were greatly weakened. Lawlessness was 
rampant. All these were the legitimate, the direct fruits of the 
war a war inaugurated by the State before it was attacked 
or threatened. 

If, therefore, the reconstructive measures in Tennessee were 
sometimes too severe, as I know they were, it was only the swift 
rebound from the opposite extreme. The bow had been bent too 
far. When unloosed its rebound was terrible in the other direc- 
tion. It is always thus and always will be. Men maddened by 
the passions of Civil War, and smarting under manifold wrongs 
and persecutions, when restored to power, are apt and certain 


to go too far in avenging their wrongs. Moderation and for- 
bearance on their part, from 1865 to 1867, would certainly 
have been the wiser policy. But the Union men of the State, 
when out of power, had not experienced from their enemies the 
exercise of these qualities, and were therefore in no humor to 
manifest a mercy which they had not received. But for the 
sake of the future peace of the people of the State, it Is now 
manifest that a policy of reconciliation would have been better 
in the end. It must, however, be kept in mind that a defiance 
of lawful authority in a large district of the State, under Ku- 
Klux bands, was at this time dominant. This influenced and 
drove the authorities further and further from a policy of mod- 
eration. All this is a source of the profoundest regret. 

I wish here to make several concessions in reference to the 
great questions of the Civil War not usually made, if ever be- 
fore, by anyone writing from my viewpoint : 

(1) The claim of State sovereignty, and of the right on 
the part of the States to secede or withdraw from the Union 
whenever in their judgment the compact should be violated, is 
as old as the government, and has in its support many eminent 
names and statesmen. At different periods of our existence 
certain classes of both sections, when thinking themselves 
aggrieved, threatened to exercise this right. The question never 
was settled by argument, nor general concurrence of opinion. 

(2) It was unquestionably true that previous to the Civil 
War the Constitution, or compact of Union, had been violated 
by the Legislatures and the people of a number of Northern 
States, by the nullification and the open resistance to the exe- 
cution of the Fugitive Slave law, which was passed in pur- 
suance of the Constitution. But these acts were not the acts of 
Congress nor of the General Government, but wholly without 
the authority or sanction of either of them. 

(3) The continued agitation of the slavery question, by 
Abolition societies and Abolition organs and speakers, the 
violence of their utterances, and the shameful imputations on 
the character of slave holders, were well calculated to produce 
the profound conviction in the South that there was no alter- 
native but a resort to what they believed was their constitu- 
tional right of separation. 

(4) Believing, as a majority of the Southern people did, that 
the States were sovereign and independent, having a right to 


withdraw from the Union, and that their first allegiance and 
duty were due to their respective States, when secession took 
place, it was most natural and logical that they should honestly 
espouse the cause of the States with the conscientious convic- 
tion of patriotic duty. 

No deduction can be drawn legitimately of the injustice of 
its cause by the failure of the Southern Confederacy; but 
from that fact may be urged with the stern certainty of logic 
the folly and unwisdom of secession. The conclusions of logic 
and the results of war are both confirmed by the most intelli- 
gent public opinion of the South, that the failure was not only 
a national blessing, but also a special blessing to the South. 
It is sufl'icient, it is enough, that a brave, proud people, while 
rejoicing in their grand record and celebrating their deeds of 
glory, acknowledge, perhaps with a tear, that the result was 
best. If the result was best, then it was a mistake in the be- 
ginning. If secession was a mistake, why not look with under- 
standing upon those who opposed it. 

There were peculiar reasons why Tennessee should not have 
taken the fatal step of seceding. Let it be remembered that 
war was inaugurated by the Legislature of the State long be- 
fore there Avas a Federal soldier south of the Ohio River, by 
providing by a Legislative act for the organization of an army 
of 55,000 men, that in pursuance of that act as many soldiers 
as possible were at once put into the field, and that the number 
was subsequently increased to over 120,000: that a large sum 
of money, namely, five millions of dollars, was expended by the 
State for this purpose; that in the prosecution of the war 
nearly all the assets of the Bank of Tennessee, which held 
the school fund, were consumed in that way ; that the L^nion 
Bank and the Planters' Bank, aad nearly every other bank 
in the State, were ruined ; that the school fund of the State was 
nearly all lost or expended in the Avar; that the railroads were 
run down and worn out ; that the cattle, sheep, hogs, horses, 
mules, corn, hay, wheat, fences, timber, and nearly all other 
kinds of personal property were lost and destroyed ; these things, 
in the aggregate, amounted to perhaps seventy-five or one 
hundred millions of dollars. All this is exclusive of the fifty, 
or perhaps one hundred, millions of dollars in slave property, 
lost in the State and lost by the war so unAvisely inaugurated 
by the secession party. Besides all these losses, the people 


of the State are still bearing burdens of taxation caused by the 
war, and they will have to continue to do so for generations yet 
to come. There is annually paid out of the Treasury of the State 
about two hundred thousand dollars in the shape of pensions 
to maimed or disabled soldiers, most, if not all, of which, goes 
to those engaged in the insurrection. This I do not complain 
of. The people of the State who were so unwise as to rush into 
unnecessary war, ought to take care of the crippled soldiers 
and the widows of those who were killed in battle, or who died 
of disease in that war. This is right; this is just. But it 
is one of the direct burdens of this unwise war. 

Concede that the great body of the people of Tennessee who 
went into the Civil War were honest in what they did ; concede 
that they acted, as they thought, from the highest motives 
of self-interest and self-preservation ; concede that, excepting 
a restricted number, they were governed by the purest love of 
country; concede that from their viewpoint they were noble 
patriots enlisted as they honestly thought in a noble cause; 
concede all these things, and most cheerfully I do concede them 
all, and still the great fact remains in all its force, that the 
desolation and the vast destruction of property in the State 
would not have resulted but for the war. This conclusion 
cannot be distorted, cannot be concealed. 

I admit that the Federal armies did their part of this work 
of destruction of property, but not the annihilation of the 
State banks and the waste of their assets, nor the loss of the 
school fund, nor the waste of the revenues of the State. But 
what caused these Federal Armies to come here.^ Mark the 
facts : there was not within the limits of the State of Tennessee, 
nor south of the Ohio River, on May 6, 1861, a single hostile 
Federal soldier, much less a hostile Federal Army. There 
was no threat from any quarter whatever of a hostile invasion 
of the State. All was peaceable within its borders, except the 
preparations being made by the Governor and the Legislature 
to make war on the United States. On that day an Act was 
passed by the Legislature, called a "Declaration of Independence 
and Ordinance dissolving the Federal Relations between the 
State of Tennessee and the United States of America." On the 
same day and as a part of the same Act, the "Constitution of 
the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of 
America" was adopted and ratified by the Legislature. On the 


same day Henry W. Hilllard, on the part of the Confederate 
States, and Gustavus A. Henry, A. W, O, Totten, and Wash- 
ington Barrow, on the part of Tennessee, entered into and con- 
cluded a "Convention, Agreement, and Military I>eague, be- 
tween the high contracting parties, by which the whole mili- 
tary force, and military operations, offensive and defensive, of 
said State, in the impending conflict with the United States, 
shall (should) be under the chief control and direction of the 
President of the Confederate States." On May 7th, this Mili- 
tary League was ratified and confirmed by the Legislature. On 
the same day (the 7th) an Act was passed, authorizing and 
directing the Governor "to raise, organize, and equip a provi- 
sional force of volunteers for the defense of the State, to consist 
of 55,000 volunteers." This force was raised and put into the 
Confederate Army, as soon as it could be done. 

It must be kept in mind that the people did not vote on the 
question of "Separation" or secession, until the 8th day of June 
following, so, more than a month before the Ordinance of Seces- 
sion was ratified by the people of the State, on which, according 
to the secession theory, its validity depended, war had virtually 
been declared and commenced by the State against the United 
States. The Military League was not only a violation of the 
Constitution of the United States, but was in fact a "levying 
of war" against that Government. 

And all this was done at a time when no hostile demonstra- 
tion against the State had been made by the United States, 
and when none was threatened and none intended, unless the 
State should withdraw from the Union, or be guilty of some 
act of hostility. It must be remembered that in the proclama- 
tion of Mr. Lincoln, calling out 75,000 men to suppress the 
insurrection in the States named, of South Carolina, Georgia, 
Alabama, Florida, INIississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, the name 
of Tennessee does not appear. No threat was made against 
it. A most significant fact. 

It thus appears that the Governor and the Legislature of 
the State, on the 6th day of May, without authority of the 
people thereof, but in violation of their will, as expressed in 
the February election, deliberately began war against the 
United States, by joining the Southern Confederacy, then at 
war with the former, and by raising armies for its use, and 
turning them over to the Confederate States. On the 27th day 


of April previously, Colonel Peter Turney's regiment of volun- 
teers (the 1st Tennessee Infantry) embarked on a train for 
Virginia, having been accepted by the Confederate authorities 
and assigned to the Army of Virginia. Presumably all this was 
with the knowledge and consent of the Governor, and by his 
command. He must have issued Colonel Turne}^ his commis- 
sion. All this was done without provocation, or one justifiable 
reason, on the part of Tennessee. This was nearly entirely 
the Avork of one man, Isham G, Harris, then Governor of the 

It will be noticed that the fact of secession was done by 
a Legislative Act, and passed by a body of men elected in 
August, 1859 twenty-one months previously. Admit the con- 
stitutional right of a State to secede from the Union, in as 
broad terms as possible, without cause or with cause, and still 
no laAvyer will risk his reputation by insisting that this can be 
done by a legislative enactment. To withdraw from the Union, 
if the right exists at all, is an act of the highest sovereignty 
on the part of the people, as entering the Union Avas, and can 
be done only, even according to the theory of secession, by a 
Constitutional convention, the members of Avhich have been duly 
elected thereto, and who for this purpose represent the collect- 
ive sovereignty of the State. Who ever heard of a Legisla- 
ture having the power to make constitutions or abrogate them ; 
to make war; to enter into alliances; and to transfer the 
allegiance of the people, and the military resources of the State 
and its army to a foreign party, as this Legislature attempted 
to do in 1861 ! No, this was not legal, constitutional seces- 
sion if there can be such a thing but revolution and force. 

In review of these facts the election on June 9th to determine 
the question of the ratification or rejection of the Ordinance 
of Secession, was a mere idle form. The State, as we have seen, 
had seceded, or rather revolted, from the L^nion more than a 
month before this election, by its alliance, "offensive and de- 
fensive," with the Confederate States ; by turning over to the 
latter its army ; by the adoption of a Declaration of Independ- 
ence and an Ordinance of Secession, and by sending troops to 
the seat of war. If the people had rejected the proposition 
to secede at the polls, it would have been all the same. That 
fatal measure was already practically accomplished. Who 
could have resisted it.'* What power could have stopped it with 


an ambitious Governor determined to push forward his revolu- 
tionary schemes backed by the army of the State and by thr 
whole power of the Confederate States? The people would have 
been as powerless to resist it, as were the people of East Ten- 
nessee after the June election. 

These acts and measures on the part of the Governor and the 
Legislature, were plain and palpable violations of the Consti- 
tution of the L^nited States, and that of the State. The leading 
spirit who inspired all these measures is to-day the most honored 
citizen of the State. In 1861, in the plenitude of his power, 
the Governor formed alliances and made war as coolly as the 
Czar of Russia. He equipped and put into the field an army 
greater than was ever commanded by Washington, Jackson, or 
Scott. He played with war as with a toy. The people of the 
State were as children in his hands. 

Let me say deliberately, but in the kindest spirit: the State 
should not have seceded; there was no necessity for it. There 
was not a single fact justifying it. It was a stupendous folly. 
It was productive of not a single benefit, but of untold and 
multiplied evils, which no man can number. By it every ma- 
terial interest of the State was laid low in niin. Slavery, which 
seemed to have the first consideration in the minds of the 
Southern people, was forever destroyed. In vain President 
Lincoln, in his Inaugural Address, in the most assuring, the 
most supplicating words, begged the Southern States not to se- 
cede. He had frequently declared publicly, in the most solemn 
manner, that neither a President nor Congress had any power 
to interfere with slavery in the States where it then existed. 
He had declared also that the Fugitive Slave law was con- 
stitutional and must be enforced. The Republican part}' had 
elected him well knowing these opinions, and for the most part 
approving them. The Abolition part}^ proper constituted but 
an insignificant part of the Northern people. Slavery was 
really in no danger, and would exist to-day, but for the tran- 
scendent madness and folly of its friends. Let it be kept in 
mind that all these illegal acts referred to were passed by a 
Legislature which had been elected in 1859, when no question 
of secession was before the voters of the State. 

Let me cite the example of Kentucky and I might mention 
Maryland and ^Missouri also Kentucky did not secede from 
the Union, and therefore her people escaped all the ills and hard- 


ships of reconstruction and disfranchisement . Her school fund, 
her public revenues, and the assets of her banks, were not wasted 
in equipping armies and in a mad scheme of war. Her railroads, 
instead of being seized and sequestered as Confederate property, 
and used by the United States as such, grew rich by transport- 
ing government troops and supplies. At the end of the war 
they needed no aid from the State, in the form of bonds, to 
repair the waste of war. Out of respect for the declared "neu- 
trality" of the State, not a Federal soldier was enlisted within 
her borders, nor did a Federal Army set foot on her soil, until 
after Confederate soldiers had seized and occupied Columbus, 
Bowling Green, and C'umberland Gap. As late as August, 
1861, General L. H. Rousseau was enlisting his legion of 
Kentuckians for the Federal Arm}', in obedience to the will of 
the State, not in Kentucky, but on the other side of the Ohio, 
in the State of Indiana. Thus the neutrality of the State and 
the sentiments of her people were respected. Tennessee might 
have escaped all these evils also if she had listened to the voice of 
w^isdom and moderation. The example of Kentucky is lasting 
proof of the supreme folly of Tennessee. She saved her 
revenues, saved her railroads, and made mone}' out of them, 
and escaped reconstruction and disfranchisement. Will any- 
one to-day say that the policy of Kentucky was not wiser than 
that of Tennessee? If Kentucky were thus treated, can any 
one giAe reason why Tennessee would not have received the 
same treatment.'^ Her sons many of them went South and 
fought for the Confederacy, as the sons of Maryland and 
Missouri did also, but as the State in its sovereign capacity did 
not secede from the Union, she was treated as a loyal State by 
the Government, as Maryland and Missouri were likewise. So 
Tennessee would have been treated. 

On March 6, 1903, the Governor of Kentucky received from 
the United States, on account of money advanced for raising 
volunteers, and for interest on loans negotiated during the 
Civil War, the sum of .$1,433,399 more than enough to pay 
off her public debt. 

For the sake of argument, admit that Tennessee had the 
unquestioned constitutional right to secede from the Union. 
Will any candid man of this day point out a single benefit that 
she derived from the exercise of this right .^ Wherein Avas she 
benefited.'^ Were her people made freer, happier, and better.'^ 


Have they larger liberties? Is the State more prosperous? 
Nearly all sensible men of this day admit that secession was a 
mistake, and rejoice that it failed. 

Perhaps it was believed at first by those who were most 
active in the cause of secession in Tennessee that tlicre would 
be no war: that the North would not fight ; that it would meekly 
submit to a dismemberment of the Union. Let us charitably 
indulge this belief. All through the winter of 1860-61, until 
April, it did appear as if secession might be peaceably accom- 
plished without war. The overwhelming sentiment of the North 
seemed to be against "coercion." Effort after effort was made 
in Congress and out of it, and by public meetings, by news- 
papers, by addresses to the public, in favor of a settlement of 
the questions in dispute by a compromise of some kind, by con- 
cessions to the South to save the nation from civil war. Mr. 
Lincoln earnestly deprecated war. Up to the fatal shot fired 
at Fort Sumter, he had not mustered a man for the defenses 
of the Union. The Southern Confederacy was in full existence 
with an army, and with all its departments in full operation. 
It was a government. And for anj'thing that can be seen now, 
or that could be seen then, it might have gone on in its career 
unmolested until it had established its independence, by the 
silent acquiescence of the old government. But the new gov- 
ernment, confident in its strength, becoming impatient at the 
delay of Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, and possibly 
at the hesitation of Kentucky, Missouri, and ^Maryland, and 
hoping by "striking a blow" to rouse a wild passion for war, 
and thus to draw those States to its side, without any military 
necessity, struck that blow in Charleston, and immediately 
kindled the flame of war from the center to the uttermost 
boundaries of our countr3\ Contrary to what was anticipated, 
there was a united North and a divided South. 

There were many able and far-sighted men in the State in 
1861 who deplored the secession of Tennessee as an act of folly 
and of inconsiderate haste. There were such men as John Bell, 
Justice John M. Catron, Ex-Governor William B. Campbell, 
Return J. :\Ieigs, John Trimble, William H. Polk, Dr. W. P. 
Jones, Bailie Peyton, Emerson Etheridge, Alvin Hawkins, An- 
drew Johnson, T. A. R. Nelson, James W. Deadrick, N. G. 
Taylor, John Netherland, Samuel Milligan, W. G. Brownlow, 
Horace Maynard, John Baxter, and Connally F. Trigg. Surely 


these men were the equals in judgment, intellect, and patriot- 
ism of any similar number in the State. 

The reasons influencing their minds were many, and they were 
of the most momentous gravity. In the very threshold they 
saw the danger to the existence of the institution of slavery 
itself the very cause of the war. It was hazarding its existence 
upon the chances of battle, with three slave States, in their 
sovereign capacity, and with a very considerable part of the 
population of three others, in sympathy with the Union. The 
amazing folly of abandoning the guarantees of the Constitu- 
tion for the protection of slavery, and appealing to the sword, 
in the face of nearly three fighting men against one, and with 
immensely superior resources for war, thus giving the Aboli- 
tionists and a part of the Free-soilers an opportunity and a 
pretext they had long desired of destroying that institution, 
is almost inconceivable in its folly. The South, in a spirit of 
chivalry, in effect said to the North : "The Constitution pro- 
tects slavery wherever it now exists, and you dare not touch 
it. But we will tear to pieces that instrument and abandon 
our advantages under it, by seceding from the Union, and we 
challenge you to settle the moral question by a contest of 

These eminent men, as many others did in the South, warned 
the Southern people of the danger of secession, but in the 
whirlwind and delirium of popular excitement, their voices and 
admonitions were not heeded. 

These losses which I have enumerated in the foregoing pages 
will be repaired by the flight of years, except the sufferings, 
the tears of anguish, and the fearful loss of life among noble 
Tennesseeans. But there are some great, but partial com- 
pensations : 

(1) The doctrine of State sovereignty the right of a State 
to secede at will from the Union though still prevailing as 
a theory of the Constitution, was greatly weakened by the 
results of the war, and is not likely to be resorted to as a 
practical remedy for grievances by any of the States for gen- 
erations to come, if ever again. 

(2) The idea of national sovereignty as contradistinguished 
from State sovereignty and State independence, was immensely 
strengthened by the result of the late war. The idea of a 
Union "one and indivisible" has taken hold of the popular 


mind and heart, and nothing but a great and terrible war to 
divide it could have accomplished this. 

(3) The sectional question of slavery, being eliminated for- 
ever from the forum of agitation, there is no human probabil- 
ity of any question ever arising that will draw one-third or 
one-half of the co-terminus States of any section unitedly into 
the act of revolting against the government. 

There is compensation, too, in the reflection that the na- 
tional government came out of the war with a prestige, with 
a halo of glory, it never had before, arising out of the splendid 
feats of arms performed on a hundred battlefields by the gal- 
lant sons both of the North and of the South. Then the almost 
marvelous power of recuperation shown by both sections es- 
pecially in the South, which was left in almost hopeless ruin and 
desolation is well calculated to exalt our pride. The nation 
was left by the war with a debt of twenty-seven hundred mil- 
lions of dollars to be provided, and yet that debt has been 
reduced eighteen hundred millions, and our government's bonds 
are floated at a lower rate of interest than any in the world. 
The whole country the South, after a period of readjust- 
ment, as well as the North sprang forward on a career of 
prosperit}'^ and development such as has never been surpassed, 
if ever equaled, in the history of human affairs. 


Brownlow Re-elected, 18G7 Emerson Ethericlge Isham G. Harris 
Brownlow Elected to United States Senate, October, 1867 Johnson 
Arraigns Brownlow The Reply Author's Personal Relations with 

In 1867 Governor Brownlow was a candidate for re-election, 
receiving the party nomination without opposition. During his 
first term bitter opposition to him had sprung up among certain 
men who had formerly been Union sympathizers. The leader in 
this movement was the somewhat celebrated Emerson Etheridge, 
for several terms a distinguished Whig member of Congress. 
He was put forward as a candidate for Governor against Mr. 
Brownlow, backed and supported by such men as T. A. R. Nel- 
son, John Baxter, John Netherland, J. M. Fleming, John Wil- 
liams, and certain prominent men in Middle and West Tennessee. 
Mr. Etheridge took the stump and made a very bitter and a 
very powerful canvass. The administration of Governor Brown- 
low and his party was arraigned as only Mr. Etheridge could 
have done it. He was the most brilliant and the most versatile 
man at that time in the State. With no early advantages and 
no education, except that acquired at old-fashioned country 
schools, he had become one of the most accurate and polished 
speakers in the State. His mind was stored with a vast fund of 
useful as well as polite knowledge. He was a constant reader, 
and his memory was something wonderful. It is said that years 
afterward he could still call by memory the roll of the House 
of Representatives of which he was clerk in 1861. His reading 
embraced a wide range of topics. Long ago he returned from 
his political wanderings of 1867, and his brief alliance with the 
secession party to the faith of the old Whig party, of which he 
had been so bright an ornament. He deserted his new spouse, 
for which he had but little love, with the words of the nuptial 
ceremony still sounding in his ears. Unquestionably he was one 
of the strongest characters that had appeared in Tennessee for 
many years. As a public man he possessed certain peculiarities, 
not in the least affecting his moral standing, that were always 
a drawback to him. In this category may be placed his frank, 


outspoken independence and his eccentricities. His honesty, 
both as a public and a private citizen, has always been con- 
ceded. His private life was spotless. As a conversationalist, in 
his prime, he was unusual. In Washington or wherever he might 
be he always had a crowd around him, listening to his brilliant 
conversation. Next after Haskell and Gentry he was the bright- 
est man in the State. His mind was not massive like John 
Baxter's, but it was quick and electrical.* 

Mr. Etheridge pressed his canvass in 1867 with great power 
and bitterness, only to be disastrously beaten. Governor Brown- 
low was unable to take the stump on account of the failure of his 
voice, but he was triumphantly re-elected, running ahead of his 
party. His second term, like the first, was stormy and full of 
exciting incidents. During this term the Ku-Klux were again 
at their nefarious work, but the strong arm and will of the 
Governor triumphed and violence was everywhere suppressed. 

The weakest points in Mr. Brownlow's character were his 
absolute trust in the good faith of his friends, and the readiness 
with which he became reconciled to his enemies. The first ex- 
posed him in public life to the wiles of false and corrupt men as 
it did General Grant also. The second exposed him to the 
charge of inconsistency and insincerity. These charges were 
not in fact just. The first was the result of too much faith in 
the honesty of men and his inability to say no. The second 
arose from a grand spirit of magnanimity. He was so generous, 
so trustful, so forgiving that he took all men to be what they 
professed to be. 

His treatment, while Governor, of Isham G. Harris after the 
war is a good illustration of his magnanimity. Harris, it will 
be remembered, was Governor of Tennessee in 1861. It was 
almost exclusively through his influence and exertions that 
Tennessee was finally induced to secede after one signal failure. 
His courage, ability, and iron will accomplished this result in 
the face of a Union majority in the previous February election 
of 61^,000 votes. Harris was very bitter toward Union men. 
He did everything that could be done, whether legal or illegal, 
for the cause of secession. No man in the South was more active, 
or more bitter, or more successful in the cause of disunion. He 
had boldly inaugurated secession in defiance of the popular 
will as expressed at the ballot box by entering into a "military 

*He died in 1902. 


league" with the Southern Confederacy before the people of the 
State voted for secession. He had organized an army and made 
war on the United States by sending troops to Virginia weeks 
before the vote in favor of separation. From that time until the 
day of his precipitate flight from the State, after the fall of 
Fort Donelson, in February, 1862, he had carried things with 
an imperial will. Yet there was something manly and noble in 
his manner of doing things. No man was so cordially hated by 
Union men. When the State Government was reorganized the 
Legislature directed the Governor to offer a reward of five thou- 
sand dollars for his apprehension. 

On the downfall of the Confederacy Harris, with a number 
of other violent Confederates, went to Cordova, Mexico, where 
they proposed to establish a colony from the Southern States 
and engage in the business of raising coffee. William M. Gwin, 
an ex-Senator from California, was one of these voluntary exiles. 
Maximilian created Gwin Duke of Sonora. The overthrow of 
Maximilian made it necessary for Harris and Gwin and their 
followers to get out of Mexico as they had gotten out of the 
United States. The fate of the unfortunate Maximilian was a 
warning to them that revolutionists in Mexico who fail, espe- 
cially foreigners who attempt to overturn the government, were 
not regarded as heroes and objects of popular idolatry as in the 
United States. Harris was not anxious to die in Mexico, as he 
had not been in the United States, so he again began his wander- 
ings. This time he went to Liverpool, where he became a com- 
mission merchant. He was an exile, while his familv and friends 
were in the United States. It is impossible to realize how 
anxious one thus situated would be to return to his home and 
his kindred, and yet who dared not do so. So Harris became 
restless and sick at heart. Greatly as he hated the United 
States, he burned with desire to return to it. But appalling 
difficulties were in the way. His old and bitter enemy, Andrew 
Johnson, by a strange fortune, was President. To apply to 
him for pardon was revolting to his proud spirit. He would 
starve first, would remain an exile forever before humbling him- 
self before that man he hated above all others. And Brownlow, 
the terrible Brownlow, was Governor of Tennessee, that great 
State which he had plunged by his iron will into secession. But 
he would trust Brownlow while he would not Johnson. Brown- 
low was tender-hearted, and if he gave his word of promise, that 


promise would be sacredly kept like an oath. Humiliating as it 
was to appeal to his enemies for clemency, and revolting as it 
was to live in a government controlled by hated Yankees, yet 
he determined to submit to both. Accordingly, he wrote to his 
late associate in the work of secession, ex-Governor Neill S. 
Brown, to sound Brownlow and to intercede for him. Governor 
Brown went with the letter to Brownlow and frankly stated that 
he came to appeal for clemency on behalf of the man who had 
done more to take Tennessee out of the Union than any other 
person, and therefore had done more damage to the State. 
That man now desired to return to his home, to become a peace- 
able citizen, to resume the practice of law and to try to support 
his family. Under this appeal all the long-cherished prejudices 
of Governor Brownlow at once gave way. The immense loss the 
State had sustained by reason of Harris' conduct the over- 
whelming ruin and universal desolation he had brought to the 
people of the State were all forgotten by that great, forgiving 
heart at the recital of the sufferings of the exile and the poverty 
of his family. A pledge of protection and immunity was gen- 
erously and unconditionally given. Governor BroMTilow at once 
sent a message to the Legislature, asking it to withdraw the 
offer of a reward for the arrest of Harris, which was accord- 
ingly done on November 11, 1867.* 

As soon as the mail could carry the news to Liverpool Harris 
set sail for the United States. On his arrival in New York, 
without meeting anyone who knew him, he hurried on to Nash- 
ville and stopped with a friend at a private house. The next 
morning, being the Sabbath, at an early hour, before it was 
known he was in the city, Harris and ex-Governor Brown pre- 
sented themselves before Governor Brownlow. When the latter 
saw them approaching, with extended arms he advanced to meet 
Harris, saying: "While the lamp holds out to burn, the vilest 
sinner may return." Harris and Brown both laughed feebly at 
this pleasantry, but it was plain that the former did not enjoy 
it. The case of Harris was then discussed. He was apprehen- 
sive that he would be arrested the moment he reached his home 
in Paris. Governor Brownlow assured him of his protection. 

It Is a curious fact that the Act of the Legislature repealing the law 
offering a reward for Harris, winds up with a brand on him : "that the 
Governor is hereby instructed to revoke his proclamation offering a re- 
ward for the apprehension of said leham G. Harris, the traitor." 


and directed him to telegraph him if he should be arrested, and 
he would become his bail.* 

The following extract is taken from a letter in the Atlanta 
Constitution of 1886, inspired, if not written, by the Hon. W. C. 
Whitthorne, the intimate friend of Harris, and no doubt written 
at his (Harris') suggestion. This gives a little different version 
of this affair : 

"With this (a reward of $5000) hanging over him, when the 
rebellion collapsed, Harris made haste for Mexico, and upon the 
failure of the French Empire sailed for Europe. Meantime his 
family was without means of comfortable support. Governor 
Brownlow, softening much toward Harris, and becoming con- 
vinced in his own mind that in some of his former charges and 
denunciations he had done Governor Harris injustice, sent for 
one of the receivers whom he had appointed to take charge of a 
State railroad, and told him to appoint quietly a relative (a son) 
of Governor Harris to a position which would enable him to sup- 
port the family. This was done. 

"When Harris returned from Europe he went directly to 
Nashville and called on the Governor, by whom he was received 
with unexpected cordiality. Harris explained that he had come 
to surrender himself, preferring that to a summary arrest. 
Brownlow insisted that no trouble would then come from the old 
proclamation of reward for his capture. Harris insisted that 
as the United States marshal had a warrant for his arrest he 
would prefer to have it settled before he should go home. When 
he met his family he desired, if possible, it should be in peace. 
The Governor told him to go home at once, and he would arrange 
the matter with the marshal. This he did by becoming bondsman 
for Harris' appearance when wanted. 

"The night of Harris' arrival at home one of the Unionists 
of the place telegraphed the Governor that Harris had returned 
and suggested prompt and quiet measures for his arrest. Gov- 
ernor Brownlow replied that he was fully informed of Harris' 
movements, and that he was on a bond for his appearance. 

"In the change of time and politics, Harris, upon whose head 
a price had been put by Brownlow for treason, came to represent 
his State in the Senate. * * * The moment it came within 

This is the statement of this transaction given by Governor Brownlow 
in his lifetime, as well as by Ex-Governor Neill S. Brown, who negotiated 
for the return of Harris. 


his power to do so he used his influence to keep a relative of his 
old antagonist, but later friend, in place. * * *" 

Thus the leader of secession in Tennessee, the brains and the 
will power of his party, and one of the last men in the South 
to give up the struggle, returned peaceably to his home to 
resume his ordinary duties without arrest and without punish- 
ment. And yet such men complain of the cruel treatment they 
received at the hands of the Government after the war ! 

Governor Harris returned to his home, in Paris, Tenn., and 
resumed his old profession the practice of law. In 1877 he 
was elected to the United States Senate, which position he still 
holds. He is serving his third term in the Senate. Notwith- 
standing his advanced age he is still the leader of his party in 
the State. There has been a singular inconsistency in his char- 
acter as a public man since he became Senator. At home, in 
Tennessee, he is regarded as bitter and extreme in his opinions. 
He always takes the side of extreme Bourbonism in his speeches. 
Evidently he fully understands how to cater to the rabid tastes 
of his followers. In the Senate, on the contrary, he seldom 
makes speeches, and when he does they are nearly entirely free 
from narrow partisanism and sectional bitterness. At Wash- 
ington he is regarded as a very broad and liberal-minded states- 
man, who has lifted himself above the narrowness of Southern 
politicians. Like wine, he is supposed to have grown milder 
with age. At home he is known to be what he was in 1861. 

I record M'ith pleasure, however, that wherever he may be he 
is always bold, open, and manly. No concealment nor deception 
marks his course. Among his fellow Senators he is held in high 
esteem and respect. His ability is conceded on all sides. In- 
deed, he is regarded as the ablest man in his party in the 
Senate from the South.* 

During the first term of the administration of Governor 
Brownlow the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the 
Constitution of the United States were ratified by the Legisla- 
ture of the State on his recommendation. During their consid- 
eration President Johnson used all his influence and the promise 
of offices to defeat their ratification. 

*Since the above was written Senator Harris departed this life in 
1897. With faults be combined many noble traits. He was fruulc, inde- 
pendent, and straightforward. He was always honest, both as a man 
and a politician. There was no indirectness in hiui. His tidelity to his 
friends and his faithfulness to his promises were remarkable. 


In October, 1867, Governor Brownlow was elected by the 
Legislature to a seat in the United States Senate. His majority 
was twenty-five over all competitors. If he had announced him- 
self before members became committed to other candidates, his 
election would have been almost unanimous. His competitors 
were the Hon. Horace Maynard, Andrew J. Fletcher, Colonel 
William B. Stokes, and General Joseph A. Cooper. Mr. May- 
nard, on learning that Mr. Brownlow was a candidate, wisely 
withdrew from the race. 

Mr. Brownlow remained in the discharge of his duties as 
Governor until the latter part of February, 1869. On March 
4, the very day Mr. Johnson retired from the Presidency, and 
that on which General Grant became President, he took his seat 
as Senator, the successor of the Hon. David T. Patterson, the 
son-in-law of Mr. Johnson. Thus Mr. Johnson and Judge Pat- 
terson, who were placed in power by the opponents of the Demo- 
cratic part}^, having gone over to that party, were sent into 
retirement by public sentiment at the same time. On the same 
day they were succeeded in their respective offices by unflinching 
patriots. Grant and Brownlow. The credentials of Governor 
Brownlow as Senator were presented to the Senate by the great 
war Governor of Indiana, Oliver P. Morton. 

While the race for Senator was pending Mr. Brownlow asked 
his son what people were saying about his candidacy. His son 
replied that some of his opponents said it was an outrage for 
him to seek the Senatorial term of six years when he was about 
to step into eternity. "They say," Brownlow replied, "I am 
going to die, do they? Well," said he with a smile, "I expect 
to live the term out, but, if I don't, the Senate chamber is not 
a bad place from which to depart for Heaven." Six years and 
four months after taking his seat as Senator a friend called to 
see him one morning in his home, in Knoxville, and finding him 
writing asked him what he was doing. He replied : "I am dic- 
tating an obituary notice of the death of Andrew Johnson. 
When I was elected to the Senate it was objected to me that I 
would not live out my term, and here I am, with a good appetite 
and a clear conscience, writing the obituary of my successor." 

While Senator he was punctual in his attendance and faithful 
in the discharge of all his duties, though an invalid. While co- 
operating in all party questions with the Republicans, he at the 
same time preserved the right of individual judgment. General 


Grant as President had no firmer, truer friend, and yet on at 
least two important occasions, and perhaps oftener, he voted 
against the recommendations of the Executive. He yielded no 
blind subserviency to the President, though he greatly admired 
him. He regarded him as the best and truest man in the Re- 
publican party. Mr. Brownlow delivered no oral speeches. His 
voice was gone, and his nervous prostration was such that he 
had to recline on a couch all his time when not in the Senate 
chamber. Whatever he wished to say, therefore, was invariably 
written out and read by the Clerk. His speeches were always 
clear, pointed, and strong. There was no such thing as mis- 
understanding his crisp and ringing utterances. It was a 
pathetic sight to witness this noble old Roman, reclining day by 
day in his invalid chair, watching with intense interest the pro- 
ceedings of the Senate, his mind all alive as in the days of his 
wonderful physical vigor. His body was enfeebled, but not his 
intellect. The latter still glowed with all the fire and energy 
of 1861, when his pen electrified the hearts of loyal East 
Tennesseeans. And ill fared the man, even in his enfeebled old 
age, whose temerity roused the old lion. 

During his term of six years it can be safely affirmed that 
Senator Brownlow did nothing to lower the dignity of his high 
office, nothing unworthy of the great State he had the honor to 
represent. Never were her people represented with mure faith- 
fulness, or with more dignity. When he left the Senate he left 
it with the respect and confidence of all his fellow Senators. 
He left the office, too, as he had entered it poor. No charges 
of ill-gotten wealth ever blurred his name. Even in Tennessee, 
with all the abuse that has been heaped upon his administration, 
no charge of venality or personal corruption has ever been laid 
at his door. No one has ever dared to say that he had ever been 
personally corrupt. With all the investigating committees 
raised by the Democrats, after they came into power in 1870, 
no spot nor stain was ever found in his record. Whatever may 
have been the case with the crowd of worthless and corrupt men 
who at the close of the war came to the surface and naturally 
gathered around those in power for the sake of plunder, as they 
did around both Brownlow and Grant, in none of the nefarious 
operations of these men was he a participant. Like Grant, too, 
his readiness to oblige, his devotion to his friends, and his too 
ready credulity, exposed him to the wiles of such men, of bad 


men, not in the least suspecting their purpose. This was the 
weakness of Governor Brownlow. No danger, no threat of an 
enemy, could move him, but it was hard, almost impossible for 
him to say no to a friend. 

It is a singular circumstance that Mr. Johnson should have 
been the successor of Mr. Brownlow in the Senate as the latter 
had been his successor as Governor. Mr. Johnson was elected 
Senator in 1875, and took his seat on March 4 in an extraordi- 
nary session of the Senate. But for this extra session of the 
Senate he would never have entered on his duties as Senator 
under his election in 1875, for he died on the 31st day of the 
following July. 

As it was, he was there long enough to revive his old quarrel 
with General Grant and Mr. Brownlow. It would seem that an 
ex-President of the United States, who had been restored to 
the Senate after two desperate contests, would have been con- 
tent to wear his fresh honors with peaceable dignity. But not 
so with this ex-Presidcnt. The dark, deep, tempestuous pas- 
sions pent up in his bosom for long years must find an outlet. 
On the first opportunity he poured forth the hot lava of his 
heart on his great enemy. General Grant, and on his old rival, 
Brownlow. The former, from his height of exaltation and with 
the unaffected dignity which marks the superior mind, treated 
the assault with silence, more withering than the bitterest words. 
But the latter, from his sick couch, gathered up his remaining 
strength for his last struggle with his old enemy. 

Johnson, in his blind rage, was floundering about to find 
something to say against the invalid who lately occupied the 
seat now held by himself. This invalid, who had held for six 
years a seat in the Senate with so much senatorial dignity, had 
gone home, as it was generally supposed, to die, carrying with 
him the respect and sympathy of a majority of his countr3mien. 
Johnson, without the slightest ground, went out of his way to 
arraign Brownlow as the "refractory Governor" of Tennessee 
for his course while the Fourteenth Amendment was pending 
before the Legislature. He accused him of having tried "to 
control the Legislature." Mr. Brownlow, in his answer, shows 
what everybody at the time knew to be so, that he and the great 
body of both houses of the Legislature were in perfect accord 
as to the Fourteenth Amendment. He also shoAvs that a few 
"refractory" members, through the influence of Mr. Johnson as 


President, had absented themselves from the Legislative hall, 
though present in the House, in order to prevent a quorum. 
He says on this point: 

"Recurring to President Johnson's attempt to influence the 
action of the Legislature on the proposed P^ourteenth Amend- 
ment, I will say that several days before the meeting of the 
Legislature Johnson ascertained that a majority of the body 
would vote for the Amendment. To carry out his lawless pur- 
pose to defeat the amendment, his emissaries came from Wash- 
ington to Tennessee and wrote from the Capitol to their friends 
in this State that 'the President desired that the Legislature be 
broken up rather than the amendment be ratified.' It was 
understood at Nashville that members who would 'bolt' and aid 
in the revolutionary scheme conceived and inaugurated by Presi- 
dent Johnson to defeat the amendment Avould be rewarded by 
Federal appointments. 

"And it is a singular coincidence that many of the seditionists 
were subsequently rewarded by the President with Federal ap- 
pointments. Letters from the bosom friends of the President at 
Washington came to members of the Legislature, and those sup- 
posed to have influence with them, as thickly as autumn leaves 
in a brisk gale, advising the breaking up of the Legislature in 
order to defeat the amendment. One of the bolters received a 
letter from the Hon. Edmund Cooper, President Johnson's 
private secretary, 'advising him to absent himself from his seat 
in the Legislature that the amendment to the Constitution might 
be defeated at all hazards.' 

"The Nashville Press and Times of July 18, 1866, contained 
this extract from the Cincinnati Gazette's Washington corre- 
spondent: 'Last night JNIr. Cooper (the President's private 
secretary) declared to a company of gentlemen that if the Presi- 
dent could possibly prevent the assembling of a quorum of the 
Tennessee Legislature he would surely do it.' " 

Again JNIr. Brownlow says: "The whole question in contro- 
versy in Tennessee was whether in palpable violation of the Con- 
stitution of the State, a small minority of the Legislature, acting 
under the advice of Andrew Jolmson, as President of the United 
States, should, by lawless revolutionary means, block legislation 
and break up the Legislature of the State. This was the sole 
question as the record shows. The statements of Senator John- 
son to the contrary are what you Northern people term 'mis- 


representing the truth of history,' but what we in Tennessee 
call 'unmitigated lying.' 

"As Governor of the State, and contrary to the wishes of 
Andrew Johnson, I convened the Legislature in extraordinary 
session for the purpose of submitting to it the ratification or 
rejection of the Fourteenth Article of Amendment to the Con- 
stitution, which had only recently been passed by Congress. 
* * * But Andrew Johnson, as President, determined to 
interfere in the administration of the government of the State, 
and did interfere in as flagrant a manner as President Grant is 
even charged with doing by the Democratic press of to-day or 
by this same Andrew Johnson. He had the effrontery to en- 
deavor to browbeat and bully me and the loyal majority of the 
Legislature associated with me into acquiescence in that miser- 
able political abortion, known as 'My policy.' * * * 

"The sequel, however, proved that he was 'barking up the 
wrong tree,' and when he issued orders to me he was not dealing 
with Perry of South Carolina nor one of the Provisional Gov- 
ernors of the Cotton States, who held his commission and felt 
that they owed their position to him. I was nominated and 
elected by the loyal people of the State, and in defiance of the 
known opposition of Andrew Johnson. In a convention of five 
hundred and thirty or forty delegates I was nominated by 
acclamation, and that, too, after Andrew Johnson had been 
laboring for weeks to prevent it. * * * Johnson opposed 
me because he desired to hold at the same time the offices of 
Vice-President and Governor of Tennessee. From his previous 
knowledge of my character he apprehended difficulty in running 
the State government of Tennessee while I held the office of 
Governor. * * *" 

Finally, Mr. Brownlow, after a long and calm but searching 
review of the question at issue between him and Mr. Johnson, 

"Andrew Johnson and myself made war on each other about 
thirty-eight years ago, and have kept it up without intermission 
ever since, save during a brief period when he 'threw up the 
sponge' and made overtures for peace. Now that he has re- 
newed the war in the Senate, I say to him : 

*'. . . Lay on, Macduff. 
And damn'd be him who first cries. Hold, enough !" 


The refutation of the charges and insinuations of Mr. John- 
son was conclusive and overwhelming. The tone of the reply 
was in the main mild and dignified. It presented Mr. Johnson's 
overweening disposition to interfere with and control all legisla- 
tion in Congress, as well as in the late insurgent States, to suit 
his "policy" in so clear a light that it must have been exceed- 
ingly mortifying to him. This triumphant reply, coming on the 
heels of the almost universal cry of indignation against him for 
his indecent attack on President Grant, must have had a most 
depressing effect on his proud spirit. When his death occurred 
three months afterward I was disposed to believe that Mr. 
Brownlow's letter helped to hasten his end. General Grant re- 
marked afterward that he did not see "how anything more 
pointed and vigorous could be written" than this letter of Mr. 
Brownlow. This was the last fight of these two men. In three 
months Mr. Johnson passed away, "his last battle fought, his 
last victory won." Two years later Mr. Brownlow also silently 
passed away, amid the tears of a loyal people, grateful to his 
memory for his faithfulness when Mr. Johnson deserted them. 
On April 29, 1877, in the seventy-second year of his age, Wil- 
liam Gannaway Brownlow departed this life, in his home in 
Knoxville, sincerely mourned as but few men have ever been. 

At the risk of being charged with indelicacy I venture to 
speak of my own personal relations with Mr. Brownlow, as 
they throw much light on his character. Our acquaintance- 
ship commenced in 1839 or 1840, while I was yet a boy. We 
lived in adjoining counties. From the first our relations were 
cordial. From 1844 up to the time of his death we were on the 
most intimate and confidential terms. There was never a break 
in this friendship. Twice during this time, namely, in the Presi- 
dential race of 1852, when he supported Mr. Webster, and again 
in the Gubernatorial canvass of 1869, when he supported Gov- 
ernor Senter, we differed widely as to men and supported dif- 
ferent candidates, but this wrought no change in our personal 
relations. In 1844, just after I left college, we published a joint 
list of appointments for public speaking, and were together in 
the counties of Sullivan, Carter, Greene, and Cocke, making 
speeches for Mr. Clay. Traveling together, on horseback, as 
we did in those days, and speaking together, we naturally be- 
came intimate. 

Four years after this, in 1848, I removed away from my old 


home in GreenevIUe to Knoxville, a larger and far more im- 
portant town. In 1849 Mr. Brownlow visited Knoxville and 
held a consultation as to the advisability of his removing with 
his paper to this larger town. He decided to make a change of 
residence, and he at once put his purpose in execution. From 
that time forward his paper had a larger field for circulation 
and wider influence. It became a real power in the State. 

After an experience of over fifty-five years with men, I 
can safely affirm that he was one of the truest and most unselfish 
of men in his friendship I ever knew. Daily and hourly 
he manifested his beneficence to those around him. I venture to 
say that he did more kindness to those with whom he came in 
contact than any man who ever lived in the State. No wonder 
he had a hold on the affections of the people who knew him, such 
as no other man I have ever met. He was a popular idol. On 
the other hand, his independence, his positive, brave, outspoken 
words of censure or condemnation made for him the bitterest 
enemies any man ever had. Yet many of these became in after 
life his truest friends. He bore no malice and was always ready 
for reconciliation. These reconciliations were always as simple 
and as natural as those of children. There was not a word of 
explanation no ceremony, no apologies but simply cordial 
speaking and acting as old friends. 

A man who could excite in the hearts and minds of men the 
tenderest emotions of friendship, and for forty years retain this 
feeling by personal magnetism and noble acts alone, surely 
could not have been a bad man. Bad men do not attract, but 

When I was a young man Mr. Brownlow rendered me a favor, 
not of a pecuniary character, which was in part the foundation 
of whatever good fortune afterward attended me. For this I 
was always profoundly grateful. In after life the memory of 
this act always kept alive my faithfulness and devotion to him. 
He constantly rendered me acts of kindness all through life. 
And I, in return for all this, was constant in my efforts to serve 
him. I have the consciousness of having been faithful and of 
some service to him. Some extracts from a letter written to me, 
three years before his death, show how magnanimous he was and 
how appreciative of any acts of kindness on the part of others. 
I quote from it for the further purpose of showing his estimate 
of General Grant; 


United States Senate Chamber, 

Washi.vgtox, February 23, 1874. 
Dear Judge : 

I have to acknowledge the receipt of your kind letter of a few days 
since in reply to my own informing: you that you had been appointed by 
the President a Visitor to \yest Point. 

I totally disagree with you in one position taken in your iolter. \\7.., 
that I have done juoi-e for you than you for me. True, as you state, I 
have been your friend from boyhood, but you have been my friend from 
your boyhood, and I feel that you have done me as many kindnesses 
and been of as much service to me as I have done or been to you. P>e 
this as it may, neither you nor I will ever stop, when either is called on 
by the other, to make a calculation as to who was ahead. The difference 
between you and others with whom I have been intimately associated 
consists simply in this you have a more grateful appreciation of kind- 
nesses done you than most men. 

There are no emoluments in the appointment wliicli the President hi^s 
given you, b\it I have been gratified at it, because it will enable you to 
become personally acquainted with Grant imder favorable auspices. 
. . . And after you have become acquainted with him, if you make a 
favorable impression on him, as I doubt not you will do, you will be 
enabled to exercise influence with him whether you shall be a member 
of Congress while his term lasts or not. There are many men not in 
Congress who have as much influence, if not more influence, with him 
than anybody in Congress. This fact is. among other things, why I like 
Grant. If a man has his friendship or esteem, he is not to give 
him his support, whether lie is supported by a member of Congress or not. 

I have given the President an earnest and honest, but not obsequious 
support, and he understands this perfectly. I have reason to believe 
that he has the most kindly feelings for me. T was for the contirmation 
of Williams [for one of the Judges of the Supreme Court], and believed 
then and now that the press of the country did Williams and Grant 
injustice in that matter. I was warmly opposed to the confirmation of 
Caleb Gushing [for the same position], and regarded the President as 
having made a grave mistake in apixtinting him. But, with all his faults. 
Grant is the best man in our party, and I hope he will be re-elected. lie 
has more heart than any leader we have, and I admire his steadfast 
devotion to his friends. 

You must come on to the West Point examination. I want you to 
meet the President, because I want him to esteem you as I do. It is but 
a year until I shall have forever bidden farewell to public life. When I 
retire I mean to retire in earnest. Advancing age and bad health 
admonish me that my course is rapidly drawing to a close. I shall not 
on that account, however, cease to feel an interest in a few tried and 
long-trusted friends like yourself. 

I hope to see you in Congi-ess or Judge of the U. S. District Court of 
Tennessee. . . . 

Your friend, 

W. G. Brownlovv. 

This was the Brownlow, the author I knew full of kindliness, 
gentleness, frankness, and gratitude. And this was as he mani- 
fested himself in daily life to all his friends. 

One word in reference to my going to Congress. I can truth- 


fully say that I did not desire the position. More than once the 
position was within my easy grasp. For many reasons I did 
not wish it. And now in my old age I look back with satisfaction 
that during all that time I was able to resist the sometimes most 
flattering prospects held out to me by my friends to seek Con- 
gressional honors. Nor did I ever seek the position of a United 
States District judgeship. Public offices have never had any 
special attractions for me. The attractions of home far out- 
weighed them with me. 


Brownlow's Popularity An Editor Rather than a Party Politician 
Remarkable Individuality Compliment from Knoxville Register 
Press Tributes to Governor Brownlow Memory Place in History. 

Mr. Brownlow's modesty, perhaps I should say his self- 
abnegation, was equaled only by his boldness. There was in him 
no egotism, no boasting, no self-glorification. Flattery fell on 
him as water on a rock. He must have been well advanced in 
life, and long after his name had filled the land before he became 
conscious of his superior powers. When an election for Gov- 
ernor was to take place in 1865 he had apparently never thought 
of the office until he was urged to become a candidate. Again, 
in 1867, when a Senator was to be elected he did not seek the 
position, nor apparently think of it, until he was again pressed 
to become a candidate. In the meantime four candidates were 
seeking the office, among them Mr. Maynard, who had received 
many pledges of support. The Legislature at that time was 
composed almost exclusively of loyal old Whigs. With them he 
was the most popular man in the State. For them he had been 
making sacrifices all his life time, money, and editorial labors 
but seeking nothing for himself until pressed to do so. Unlike 
certain editors of this day, he did not expect to be liberally paid 
for praise and puffs. The columns of his paper, as well as his 
editorial labors, were given almost gratuitously to his party. 
He wrote from honest convictions alone. No hope of reward 
ever induced him to advocate men or measures he did not ap- 
prove. During his long editorial life he was conspicuously con- 
sistent in the advocacy of principles. He was a Whig in every 
fiber, and never departed from that faith. If his party put up 
for office objectional men, as it did at times, he refused to sup- 
port them, but remained true to his party. On account of these 
things he never lost prestige with it. 

He was totally unfamiliar with party machinery and party 
tricks. With dauntless courage and unparalleled independence 
he pursued the open highway of right. He walked in no devious 
byways. His was a plain, manly fight, made in the open day, 



in the sight of all mankind. No one ever doubted Avhere he stood, 
or on what side. His frank, brave, clarion-like words always 
proclaimed his position. In truth he was the most independent 
man of his time. He was apparently rageful and fierce, raven- 
ous as a lion for prey. But in private life he was the gentlest, 
tenderest, most childlike of men. Said a stranger once on being 
introduced to him: "Mr. Brownlow, I have known you a long 
time by character." "Which character," replied Brownlow, 
"have you gotten hold oi? for I have two characters, one given 
me by my friends, the other by my enemies." 

He possessed a remarkable individuality. He was not like 
anyone else, nor was anyone like him. He stood like an object 
against the sky, clear and distinct in outline. While he thus 
stood alone, he was in sympathy, feeling, and action in perfect 
harmony with all around him. He was always in touch with the 
people never apart from them. Yet he never flattered them ; 
never pandered to their prejudices or their base passions. He 
stood ready to reprove them when they were wrong. His word 
was law, and yet there was no dictation. He simply told his 
party what he thought and intended doing. 

His convictions were earnest and sincere ; his feelings deep 
and intense. In the language applied to another: "His feel- 
ings, acute and earnest, had given all their warmth to his prin- 
ciples, and what he once believed his duty commanded he pursued 
with the devout self-dedication of a religious obligation. To 
this temper, which by some secret of its constitution has a spell 
to sway the minds of mankind, there was added a captivating 

An Ohio gentleman who located in East Tennessee after the 
war, who had been a Union soldier, and then like so many North- 
ern men, turned to be a most bitter Democrat, some years ago 
asked a prominent gentleman who had been a friend of the 
South during the Civil War what kind of a man Brownlow was. 
He replied: "He was a man who never turned his back on a 
friend or an enemy." 

The remarks of Macaulay on Sir James MacKintosh are not 
inapplicable to Mr. Brownlow : 

"He had a quick eye for the redeeming parts of character, 
and a large toleration for the infirmities of men exposed to 
strong temptations. But this lenity did not arise from ignor- 
ance or neglect of moral distinctions. On every occasion he 


showed himself firm where principles were in question, but full 
of charity towards individuals." 

One of the highest compliments ever paid to the ability of 
Mr. Brownlow was contained in the Knoxville Register, a seces- 
sion sheet, in February, 1862, written by some bitter enemy 
who was protesting against his release from custody and against 
his being allowed to go North. The writer said : 

"We do not desire to be understood as attaching an undue 
importance to the discharge of Brownlow from the custody of 
the Confederate authorities. The writer of this has known this 
individual for years. He is, in few words, a diplomat of the first 
water. Brownlow rarely undertakes anything unless he sees his 
way entirely through the millstone. He covers over his really 
profound knowledge of human nature with an appearance of 
eccentricity and extravagance. If any of our readers indulge 
the idea that Brownlow is not 'smart' in the full acceptation of 
the term, they should abolish the delusion at once and forever. 
Crafty, cunning, generous to his particular friends, benevolent 
and charitable to their faults, ungrateful and implacable to his 
enemies, we cannot refrain from saying that he is the best judge 
of human nature within the bounds of the Southern Confederacy. 

"In procuring from the Confederate authorities a safe conduct 
to a point within the Hessian lines, he has exhibited the most 
consummate will. * * * Brownlow was triumphant and 
Benjamin outwitted. In fact, we do not know whether to laugh 
or get mad with the manner in which Brownlow has wound the 
Confederate Government around his thumb. * * * 

"BrowTilow! God forbid that we should unnecessarily mag- 
nify the importance of his name, but there are facts connected 
with the character of the man which a just and discriminating 
public would condenm if we did not give them due notice. 

"In brief, Brownlow has preached at every church and school- 
house, made stump speeches at every crossroad, and knows every 
man, woman, and child, and their fathers and grandfathers be- 
fore them, in East Tennessee. As a Methodist circuit rider, a 
political stump speaker, a temperance orator, and the editor of 
a newspaper, he has been equally successful in our division of 
the State." 

The following tribute to the memory of Governor Brownlow 
appeared after his death in the Austin Statesman, edited by a 
life-long Democrat, Colonel L. J. DuPre, who was formerly a 


citizen of Tennessee and an officer in the Confederate Army, 
stationed at Knoxville part of the time during the war, and who 
was a large-minded, generous man : 

" * * * Whatever may be said of William G. Brown- 
low, as he was in the pulpit, in the sanctum, or as a politician, 
his personal honesty was never questioned, his boundless gen- 
erosity never doubted, and in private life his truthfulness was 
never suspected. He was personally the most generous of men 
and most devoted and tenacious in his attachments, and the 
very poor in East Tennessee never knew such a friend. When 
Knoxville was once ravaged by cholera there was no hut of pov- 
erty and wretchedness that did not have its pale watcher by the 
bedside of the plague-stricken in the person of the violent, fight- 
ing parson. When Brownlow's Whig was the most successful 
newspaper in money-making in the South, the editor and pro- 
prietor who railed out so bitterly against his partisan enemies, 
gave money to the poor and helpless until he was himself almost 
impoverished. Bitterly as he was denounced and fiercely as he 
was hated as a party leader, it was never safe where Brownlow, 
the man and private citizen, was personally known to denounce 
his name or deeds. His friends were not exclusively of his own 
church or party, and Brownlow's grave will be bedewed with 
tears by the whole population of Knoxville. His widow is as 
gentle and amiable and practical as the inflammable parson was 
full of enthusiasm and violent as a preacher, editor, and party 
leader. In fact, Brownlow never came before the footlights save 
as a tragedian. Behind the scenes the very Brownlow himself 
was as kindly and generous and gentle as became the husband 
of such a wife. Now that he is dead the public will learn for the 
first time, long as Brownlow has been conspicuous, that there 
were two Brownlows as different from each other as light from 
darkness. The press and people of East Tennessee will now 
tell how very little they knew of the private citizen, the friend 
and philanthropist, who only knew the preacher, the fiery editor, 
and furious party-leader. Brownlow, when in good health, was 
an admirable story-teller. As a fireside colloquist he was simply 
peerless. Here was ever illustrated all that was admirable in 
his many-sided character. He knew personally all the party- 
leaders of his time. He was an acute listener and observer, and 
his sketches of great men were inimitable. As a Methodist, as 
an editor, as a stump speaker, he was irresistible in the midst 


of his adherents of mountams and valleys, and when we remem- 
ber that he was a Whig and Andrew Johnson, his neighbor at 
Greeneville, a Democrat, both omnipotent, each in his own party, 
it is not amazing that these two led after them into Unionism 
the great body of the people of the mountainous districts of 
three coterminous States." 

I add two other extracts, one from the Memphis Avalanche, 
and the other from the Memphis Ledger, both Democratic 

From the Memphis Avalanche " 'Parson' Brownlow be- 
longed to that class of 'good haters' so dear to Dr. Johnson. 
Yet a more tender, kinder heart never beat beneath the bodice 
of a woman. His hates were public. They grew out of political 
or religious controversies. To his friends and neighbors in pri- 
vate life his heart went out in kind acts and deeds. His charities 
were numberless and unostentatious. The heart of the fearless, 
fiery politician who in excitement hurled the thunderbolts of 
burning invective at his antagonists, and was even willing in his 
zeal to lay aside his religious creed and enforce argument with 
something stronger than words, could bleed in the presence of a 
child's grief. By the people with whom most of his life was 
spent he was much beloved as a neighbor and a friend. Noth- 
ing in his stormy career served to alienate him from their affec- 
tions. They overlooked and forgave the faults springing from 
his impetuous nature, for they knew something of the heart that 
beat within." 

From the Memphis Ledger "He was true to his friends and 
relentless toward his enemies. He could express more vitupera- 
tiveness and scorching hate than any half a dozen men that ever 
appeared in American politics. His style has been imitated, but 
never successfully copied, by men of less native intellect and 
courage. His private life was an utter contradiction of the 
nature he exhibited in public. Socially, he was genial and sym- 
pathetic, in his family almost idolized, and among his immediate 
neighbors, especially the poor, he was held in the highest esteem. 
The man was a strange compound, and there are no more like 
him. The style of journalism by which he brought himself into 
notice and became so terrible to his ememies happily passed 
away before its author, and is no longer tolerated by an intel- 
ligent public. Whatever his faults and the warp of his nature, 
he was honest, fearless and consistent in his way." 


Finally', my remarks made at a public memorial meeting, held 
in Knoxville immediately' after Mr. Brownlow's death, are given: 

"Mr. President: In rising to second the resolutions just read, 
I avail myself of the opportunity to pay a slight tribute to the 
memory of an old friend. I have known Governor Brownlow 
well and intimately for many years, and I can truthfully say he 
was a remarkable man. With no adventitious aids, with no great 
fortune, he won honor and achieved greatness, and filled the land 
with his fame. To-day his name is known and his memory 
honored in every hamlet, village, and city of the land. 

"Of all the public men whom I have known he stood the nearest 
to and was most in sympathy with the great body of the people, 
and this was the secret of his wonderful power and influence. 
He swayed the public mind, where he was well known, with a 
magnetic power such as no other man could exert. He was the 
sincere and unpretending friend of the people. All were treated 
alike, all with kindness, whether rich or poor. No man was ever 
refused a favor by him. He was the most generous man I ever 
knew. His 'hand was open as day to melting charity.' Though 
the idol of the people and a great popular leader, he was no 
demagogue. He did not win popularity by flattering the people, 
but rather by his deep sympathy with them and by a manly de- 
fense of their rights. He feared not, when it was right, to cen- 
sure them, or to oppose their will or defy their wrath. He 
was utterly fearless. Thirty years ago, when Federalism was 
exceedingly odious, he gloried everywhere in being a Federalist 
of the school of Alexander Hamilton. His undaunted courage, 
both physical and moral, has won the admiration of the world. 
By his bold and fearless words in his speeches and writings he 
has often presented himself to the public in an untrue light, as 
implacable, bitter, and unforgiving. He was the very contrary. 
To his enemies, while the battle lasted, he was fierce and terrible 
as the Nemean lion ; to his friends and his family he was gentle 
and playful as the lamb. He was full of sympathy, full of kind- 
ness, full of forgiveness, full of the most childlike tenderness and 

"The last of three remarkable men who lived in adjoining 
counties Johnson, Nelson, and Brownlow has passed away. 
Johnson, strong, self-reliant, aggressive, and invincible, fought 
his way to the highest seat of honor ; Nelson, the noble and the 
true, full of courage, full of a fiery, loft}' eloquence, the Chevalier 


Bayard of the South, without fear and without reproach; and 
Brownlow, with keen intellect, noble devotion to right, personal 
magnetism, determined will, and an audacity in courage never 

"All these remarkable men have passed away, leaving only 
their names and deeds and memory behind. Yesterday they 
were with us ; we heard their mighty voices ; to-day they are silent 
in the stillness of death. 

"In the presence of the mighty dead all passion should be 
hushed into silence. Anciently, among the old Greeks, no mortal 
body was supposed to be able to cross the river Styx into the 
shadowy land beyond ; so, here, hatred, malice, and envy should 
not pass the threshold of the chamber of death. 

"Mr, President, our friend fell not until his mission was ful- 
filled. In his life, as well as in his death, he was like the lofty 
oak of his native mountains tough, compact, unyielding in 
fiber ; casting its roots deep into the earth and lifting its spread- 
ing branches high into the sky ; the gentle breeze moved not its 
giant form; it falls not until in the fullness of time the axe is 
laid to its roots, or until upheaved by the earthquake, or swept 
by the fury of the tornado." 

All things considered, Mr. Brownlow should, and I believe 
will, stand out in history as the most conspicuous of all the 
Union leaders of the South. No comparison can be justly drawn 
between him and the Union leaders of Kentucky and Missouri. 
These States were never out of the Union. Their loyal people 
were at all times under the protection of national authority, and 
the national army. There was, therefore, no strain at any time 
on the loyalty of the Union leaders of these States. If any of 
them ever grew weak it was not caused by danger, or pressure, 
or despair, but resulted from waning patriotism. 

How different the case with Mr. Brownlow. For more than 
four months before his paper was suspended, the last vestige 
and sign of the authority of the United States had disappeared 
in Tennessee. Yet, during all this time, with unparalleled au- 
dacity, he openly and defiantly denounced the Confederate Gov- 
ernment as a dreadful despotism. He boldly proclaimed that 
he would be rejoiced at all its defeats and at its overthrow. 
Finally, in hourly danger of his life, he became a wanderer in 
the depths of the mountains. At last lured by a false promise of 
protection he returned to his home and was arrested and thrown 


into a filthy prison, where he was kept nearly a month. When, 
to save his life, he was released from prison he was kept under 
military guard in his own house more than two months longer. 
Long before this every prominent Union leader except himself 
had disappeared, or become silent, or joined the enemy. No 
other Union leader in all the secession States had since May, 
1861, dared to raise a feeble voice publicly in behalf of the 
Union. And yet during all this time the voice of this brave man 
was still heard cheering on the loyal and the true, and proudly 
defying and insulting those making war on the Government. 
Where was there a parallel to his case.'' 


Early Youth Apprenticeship in Greenville, S. C. Removal to Greene- 
ville, Teun, Where Tailor Shop Still Stands Elected to Legislature, 
1835 Defeated, 1837 Again Elected, 1839. 

Andrew Johxson was born, as is well known, near Raleigh, 
N. C, in 1808. His parents Avere poor and very humble. In 
Raleigh he was bound at the age of ten as an apprentice to 
learn the trade of a tailor, and worked at his trade for two 
years at Laurens Court House, S. C* It is reasonably certain 
that he worked for a while also in Greenville, S. C. In 1826 
he determined to move to the West, and accordingly started 
on his journey. One Saturday afternoon in the beautiful month 
of May, a little one-horse wagon, primitive in construction, 
drawn by a poor and blind horse, was driven into the outskirts 
of the village of Grecneville, Tenn., where the exhausted horse 
was halted. In this low flat ground there rises an excellent 
spring, then open to public use, but long afterward purchased 
by the boy who drove the Avagon. Over the spring there now 
droops a large willow tree, planted by him when a sprig, taken, 
it is said, from the celebrated willow over the grave of Napoleon, 
in St. Helena. The last residence of this adventurous boy 
stands on a lot that embraces this spring, now owned and 
occupied by the Hon. Andrew J. Patterson, his grandson. In 
the wagon, or accompanying it, were Mrs. Mary INIcDonough 
Dougherty, the mother of Andrew Johnson, and Turner 
Dougherty, her second husband, and Andrew himself, eighteen 
years of age. They had crossed the mountains into East Ten- 

*Mr. Johnson was bound out to a man of the name of J. J. Selby. 
Selby was a hard and cruel master, according to the statement of W. W. 
Jordon, a neighbor of Mr. Johnson in Greeneville, Tenn., to whom the 
latter detailed all the facts of his early life. He ran away, when he was 
about seventeen, because of ill-treatment, after giving Selby a good 
whipping. This is the account given by ^Slr. Jordon, derived from Mr. 
Johnson and recently published by the daughter of Jordon, Blanche Gray 



nessee from North Carolina by the road leadmg to Jonesboro, 
the same road, it is believed, by which Andrew Jackson had 
entered the State about forty j^ears previously. These two 
men, remarkable in more senses than one, traveled the same 
road in their poverty and obscurity until they both reached 
the object of their aspirations. Both were young, both were 
filled with irrepressible ambition. Jackson came as a law3'er, 
Johnson came as a journeyman tailor. Jackson came as a 
knight, finely mounted, leading a racer, with a brace of pistols 
in his holsters ; and several hundred dollars in gold. Johnson 
came in a cart driving one poor horse. 

Soon after the arrival of the little party, Andrew, with a 
quick elastic step, went into the village in search of old Joseph 
Brown,"* from whom he wished to purchase corn fodder. ]\Ir. 
Brown was soon found, for at that day it was an easy matter 
to find any of the citizens of the little town, so few were they. 
William R. Brown, a son of Joseph, a mere lad, was sent with 
Johnson to Brown's farm a mile away, to procure the fodder. 

The next morning the peaceful stillness of a Sabbath in a 
Presbyterian Scotch-Irish village reigned over Greeneville, 
Scarcely a sound was heard save the singing of birds in the 
neighboring groves, and the noise of the water falling from the 
race-head of a little mill that stood at the foot of a great hill 
south of the town for though the mill rested on the Sabbath 
day, the water flowed on unceasingly. The scene was full of 
beauty and loveliness. The atmosphere was laden with the per- 
fume of honeysuckles and wild roses. From the neat gardens 
cultivated flowers shed their fragrance on the soft air. Greene- 
ville, at all times lovely, was never more so than on that bright 
May morning, as it lay in solemn stillness flooded with light, 
nestling serenely among its green hills. From the tops of these 
hills, which so charmingly encircle the town, was seen off a few 
miles southward the great Smoky Mountains, more than six 

*Tho SMid Josei)h Brown was formerly a Scotch-Irish school teacher 
and a .Justice of the Peace. He was a worthy man and the patriarch of 
Greeneville. Away back, in the dim past, I had the advantage of his 
learning, as well as of his ferrule, when in the due course of his alterna- 
tions from schoolhouse to schoolhouse, then so common, his school fell 
within my reach. 

"A man severe he was, and stern to view ; 
I knew him well, and every truant knew : 
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace 
The day's disasters in his morning face." 


thousand feet in height, stretching away forty or fifty miles 
southward and eastward in surpassing grandeur. The moun- 
tains, their lofty summits and wide and graceful sweep of out- 
line lifted up sharply against the deep blue sky, presented a 
view of restful majesty rarely to be found. 

On this Sabbath da}^ young Andrew Johnson again went up 
into the village. Whether, as he walked along the main street 
with quick determined steps, indicative of the powerful will with- 
in, he dreamed of the future of schemes of ambition no one 
can ever tell. Naturally he directed his steps to the post- 
office. The office was in the storehouse of William Dixon, a 
wealthy as well as a worthy Covenanter from Ireland. He 
had been postmaster for a long time, and was so to remain until 
his death nearly twenty years afterward. Andrew took a seat 
in the store, and either asked for, or someone handed him, a 
newspaper, and he began to read. Little did the villagers who 
stood around dream that in that boy there was a man of 

John A. Brown, elder brother of William R. Brown, the 
lad who had gone for the fodder the day before, was a clerk in 
the store. Seeing Johnson was a stranger, perhaps attracted 
by his appearance, he entered into conversation with him. He 
learned where the lad was from; that he had merely stopped 
over to rest, that he was on his way to the West. He also 
learned that Johnson was a tailor by trade. Thereupon Brown 
urged the young man to settle in Greeneville, telling him the 
only tailor there, a Mr. Maloney, was getting old and was 
not able to do much Avork. As a further inducement for him 
to remain he proposed to Johnson to let him make for himself 
at once a suit of broadcloth. 

These and perhaps other considerations had the effect of 
changing the mind of Johnson. So, the next morning he came 
to the store, got the material for the suit and made it up. 
Johnson's first suit as a tailor, in Tennessee, was made for 
John A. Brown, and his location in the State was largely, if 
not entirely, due to the fact that he got that job. How 
trifling are the circumstances which often shape our ends, 

' "Rough hew them as we may." 

How far his destiny might have been changed had he gone 
further West, no one can tell. I believe he w'ould have risen into 


prominence, no matter where he might have gone, provided 
the population (where he settled) had been such as to afford 
a field, as Greene County did, for his peculiar talents. But 
no other part of the country, except East Tennessee, would 
have given him his ladder to the presidenc}^, in 1861-5.* 

Mr. Johnson was married in Greeneville, Tenn., in 1826, to 
Eliza McCardle. Her father was a Scotchman and a shoe- 
maker. I believe Mrs. Johnson was as well educated as the 
facilities in Greeneville permitted at that day, they were not 
remarkable. According to the universal testimony of those who 
knew her, she was a worthy woman, of an extremely retiring 
disposition. Although I lived near by in the small village, 
until I was twenty-eight years of age, I have no recollection of 
ever seeing her. After the death of Mrs. Johnson's father, her 
mother married a silversmith named JMoses Whitesides. 

The facts I have given, on the authority of William R. Brown, 
derived from his brother John, and from the famil}^ as to the 
ability of Mr. Johnson to read when he first reached Ten- 
nessee, before he had ever seen his future wife, effectually 
dispose of the story, so often and so pathetically told hy his 
enthusiastic admirers, that he was taught to read by his wife 
after they were married. Those who knew the activity of his 
mind, his eager desire for knowledge, his industry and his 
intense ambition, would, independently of these positive facts, 
be slow to believe that a young man of his capacity and 
application, reared in a place like Raleigh, where there were 
good schools, could reach the age of eighteen without learning 
to read. To say the least of it, it looks like a sensational 
story, intended to add eclat to a half romantic life, crowned 
even without this incident with marvelous success. I might 
add that the story is inherently improbable. 

There are other facts, however, which tend to shoAv the 
falsity of this story. While Johnson was an apprentice in 
Raleigh, a man of leisure and of wealth, named Hill, used to 
go among the workingmen in that city, reading to them ex- 

*The foregoing facts as to Johnson I obtained in 1891 from the lips of 
William R. Brown, the younger brother of John A. Brown and the son- 
in-law of Johnson, he having married Mrs. Mary Stover. No one stands 
higher for integrity and veracity than he. In reply to a direct question 
Brown told me emphatically that it was not true that Mrs. Johnson had 
taught her husband to read ; that such was not the understanding in the 


tracts from the speeches of great orators out of the "United 
States Speaker." Johnson heard him read from this book, 
and afterwards went to Mr. Hill to borrow the book, saying 
that having heard him read from it he had been stimulated to 
learn to read. Thereupon Hill told him that if he could prove 
that he could read, he would give him the book. Johnson took 
the book, read from it, and Hill made him a present of it.* 

There is still one more fact bearing on this point. AVhen 
Johnson worked in Greenville, S. C, before he removed to 
Tennessee, he became acquainted with a young lawyer there, 
named Benjamin F. Perry. Perry used to lend books to him. 
When Johnson was President he appointed this same Benjamin 
F. Perry Provisional Governor of South Carolina, and it was 
he who told about lending him books. No doubt the kindness 
of Perry was recalled long afterward, and had weight in secur- 
ing his appointment as Governor. The Hon. Kenneth Rayner, 
formerly a member of Congress from North Carolina, in his 
anonymous life of Johnson, says, that the latter could read 
before he left his native State. No doubt he got this fact from 
Johnson himself. 

About 1831 or 1832 I first begjin to hear of Andrew John- 
son. He had become a prominent tailor and was considered 
a very stylish one. At that time he was training himself to 
think and speak in the town debating society, in w^hich he 
early became a leader. He read everything he could find, often 
having an open book before him on his bench while he worked. 
But in a small out-of-the-way village there were but few books 
at that day. Hence the range of his reading was then, and 
afterward, narrow. Throughout his life his quotations and 
references to history and mythology were nearly alwa^'^s the 
same. Fond as he was of making a show of extensive reading, 
by the use of quotations, he had no general storehouse to 

*Tlaese facts I obtained from a gentleman to whom they were told by 
one who was at the time of Mr. Johnson's death perhaps his most inti- 
mate friend. I refer to Hon. .Joseph S. Fowler, who was formerly a 
United States Senator from Tennessee. Fowler once saw this book in 
Johnson's library. Mr. Johnson once told the same tale to W. W. Jordon. 
his neighbor, according to a recently published statement, though that 
statement makes .Johnson learn his letters and to read with the aid of 
a friend from that book. Johnson told Jordon that he still owned the 
book. The Rev. J. S. Jones has recently published the life of Andrew 
Johnson under advice of Mrs. Patterson, and he states that Jolmsun 
learned to read in North Carolina. 


draw from, and in consequence had to use the same ones over 
and over again. To one who heard him often they became very 
trite and commonplace. 

In all of Johnson's speeches, there is no evidence that he 
was familiar with the masters of English literature, such as 
Shakespeare and Milton, whose works are storehouses of beauty, 
genius, and thought. His reading was confined almost ex- 
clusively to political and party questions. In no sense was he a 
man of general intelligence. How could he have been? He 
neither had leisure nor books. Greeneville contained only a 
few hundred people. Its society was excellent. There was 
some wealth and a reasonable percentage of culture. It was on 
a par with its neighbors. There was not, however, in the 
village a single man of wide intelligence, who could become an 
example to young Johnson. Good books were rare and per- 
haps there were not one hundred standard works of literature 
in the town. I doubt if there was a private library, outside 
of one or two law offices, of two hundred volumes. There was 
not a public library in the town. It is true that there was an 
excellent library of six thousand volumes at Greeneville Col- 
lege, three miles south of the town, but Mr. Johnson had no 
time to go such a distance for books, even could he have 
obtained permission to use them. Being poor, and having to 
work unceasingly to support his family, to buy books was be- 
yond his power. He had no spare money. There were no 
book-stores. Books, if purchased, must be ordered from Phila- 
delphia or New York. So, Mr. Johnson was certainly excus- 
able in his early career, for not knowing more of books. In 
his later years, after he became a public man, when he had 
money, opportunity, and leisure, he made a mistake in not seek- 
ing more liberal culture, by means of an acquaintance with 
the great authors of the world. 

These were not all of his early disadvantages. There were 
in those days no popular lectures, no magazines, certainly none 
for remote Greeneville. There was not a newspaper in his 
county, none in the State that contained much information. 
There were no great daily papers, such as we all have now, of 
from twelve to forty pages, full of valuable matter. The 
tranquillity of the village was seldom disturbed even by a 
menagerie, the delight of villagers and rural people. Once, and 
once only, a wax-work show representing Napoleon and other 


celebrities exhibited there, then passed on like a vision, never 
to return. How often I have sighed for the return of that 
exhibition, more marvelous to mj boyhood mind than all the 
wonders of the greatest World's Fair. The average preachers 
of that da}' were not educators, but were generally as barren 
as Sahara. True, there were a few great preachers in East 
Tennessee, such as Frederick A. Ross, James Gallaher, Dr. 
Isaac Anderson, and the celebrated David Nelson, but Johnson 
seldom went to church, and was not fond of Doctors of Divinity. 

In spite of adverse surroundings, Johnson grew in mental 
activity and culture. Surely it was hard to make bricks with- 
out straw. He literally snatched information from every pass- 
ing event. Questioning everything, he would know the reason of 
every fact. With a mind burning with the fires of internal heat, 
arguing and disputing with everyone and about everything, no 
proposition was accepted on faith. He sifted and tested every- 
thing in the crucible of his own mind. The process of analyz- 
ing, eliminating, and combining was always going on. He was 
naturally and inherently disputatious, cautious, and pugna- 
cious, and opposition was his delight. Those Avho entered his 
shop were drawn into argument. From the bright young men 
of the college near by, whose tailor he was, by questions and 
argument he extracted many a useful fact. By them, too, no 
doubt, his young ambition was stimulated and set aflame. 

In 1835, at the age of twenty-seven, Johnson's political 
career began. He became a candidate for the lower house of the 
Legislature for the district composed of the counties of Greene 
and Washington. His competitor was Matthew Stevenson, a 
worthy citizen, of moral worth and high social standing, who 
had been the year before a prominent member of the convention 
called to revise the Constitution of the State. From the first 
it was manifest, to the surprise of everyone, that Stevenson was 
no match in debate for his young antagonist. Johnson hacked 
and arraigned Stevenson until his friends pitied him. From the 
first, Johnson manifested that adroitness, ability, and aggress- 
iveness in debate, as well as a disposition to pander to the 
prejudice of the people, which distinguished him so highly 
through all his subsequent career. He was almost brutal in 
his assaults. 

All the kindly amenities of high debate between gentlemen 
were wanting. When people heard him speak, they coiild 


scarcely credit their own senses, so much ability did he dis- 
play. They exclaimed: "Is not this the poor young tailor?" 
The canvass resulted as might have been expected between 
two such unequally constituted men Johnson was elected by 
a small plurality. The vote was counted at a point on the 
border line of the two counties, he being present to witness the 
count. The next day a number of persons, among them 
myself, then a mere boy, rode out two or three miles to meet 
the young conqueror returning home, in triumph, after his 
first victory. He was calm, cold, unmoved at the demonstra- 
tion. As I look back now, it seems that he said by his con- 
duct, "This is only what I deserve and shall expect in the 
future." It may be safely assumed from the above that I 
started in life an enthusiastic admirer of Andrew Johnson. 

Upon entering the Legislature, Johnson made himself no- 
torious by opposing a motion to invite the ministers of the 
Gospel of the city to open the daily sessions with prayer. 

It was during this Legislature that a charter incorporating 
the Hiwassee Railroad Company in East Tennessee, and perhaps 
granting it State aid also, was presented for passage. Johnson 
did all he could in opposition to it. This was perhaps the first 
railroad charter granted in the State, and the Hiwassee Rail- 
road, as it was then called, was the first one put under con- 

It is curious what absurd and ridiculous ideas men of the 
best sense and intelligence, at that day, entertained concerning 
railroads. Had I not heard with my own ears, I should hardly 
credit what I am about to state. In one of Johnson's canvasses 
for the Legislature I am not certain as to the year I heard 
him make a speech, in which he argued at length that railroad 
charters were unconstitutional because they created monopolies 
and perpetuities. But this was not so alarming and dangerous, 
in his view, as the dire consequences which would result from 
these roads. He insisted that they would be a fearful curse to 
the country, because they would stop the travel along our public 
highways, on horseback, in carriages and with wagons, and thus 
destroy the wayside taverns. Quite as great an evil would be 
the fact that they would throw out of employment the many 
six-horse teams then engaged in East Tennessee, in hauling our 
surplus produce to distant markets, and in bringing back to 
our merchants the groceries and merchandise needed by the 


people. I never have known Johnson to plead more earnestlj 
for the rights of the people than he did on these subjects.* 

It is perhaps not the duty of the humble biographer to de- 
cide the desirability of wayside taverns and six-horse teams 
on one side, and railroads on the other! 

As to the higher objection to railroads, urged by Johnson 
with great earnestness, that they were unconstitutional because 
they were monopolies and perpetuities, all honest men should 
bow with respect before the conscientious convictions of the 
"Defender of the Constitution," as he was sometimes called ! 

To be serious : whether Johnson's opposition to railroads 
was the result of want of information, or because he thought he 
could make votes by it, is hard to tell. Possibly both causes 
had influence. Here is a dilemma. To conclude that he was 
conscientiously opposed to railroads reflects on his intelligence. 
On the contrary, to assume that he was simply trying to catch 
votes by his opposition, casts a reflection on his honesty, and 
that I refrain from doing. 

But he was correct in his prophetic vision ! The good old 
wayside inns are gone ! If there was ever perfect luxury on 
earth, an old-fashioned country tavern like that of James Bell 
at Campbell's Station, or that of Mr. Lackey further on, con- 
stituted that luxury in all its perfection, to the tired, hungry 
traveler, after a long day's ride on horseback. -j- 

*In olden times, before railroads, goods were hauled by great six- 
horse teams from Baltimore and from Philadelphia to East Tennessee, 
and sometimes even to Nashville. 

fCaptain James Bell kept one of those ideal wayside inns at Campbell 
Station, fifteen miles west of Knoxville, on the old main stage road lead- 
ing to Nashville. He was a bustling, accommodating, delightful land- 
lord who anticipated every want of the traveler. He was fond of relating 
reminiscences of distinguished men who had enjoyed the comfort of his 
house. A short time before his death, a few years ago, he told me 
the following incident in reference to Andrew Jackson which has never 
been reported correctly. Jackson always stopped with him in going to 
and returning from \yashington. On one occasion, while President, on 
his way to the Hermitage, he stopped in Knoxville for the night and 
sent a message to notify Captain Bell that he would be at his house the 
next morning with his retinue for breakfast. It happened that Governor 
John Branch of North Carolina (I think it was he), on his way lionie 
from the West, had stopped there also. General Jackson and he were 
bitter enemies. An old, unsettled difficulty existed between them grow- 
ing out of the quarrel and disruption of General Jackson's Cabinet, of 
which Governor Branch was a retiring member, about the celebrated 
Mrs. General John H. Eaton. Branch was plucky and determined, and 
when General Jackson drove up to the hotel, to his amazement he saw 


The opposition of Johnson to the first railroad in East Ten- 
nessee proved a very serious matter to him. He evidently 
miscalculated its effect on his popularity. 

There was in the Legislature of 1835 with Mr. Johnson a 
young man from Washington County Brookins Campbell. 
Educated, amiable in disposition, honorable in deportment, 
possessed of fair talents, his friends claimed for him exceptional 
ability, and regarded him with high hopes. In the Legislature 
he had voted for the railroad measures which Johnson had op- 
posed. On his return home, a few of the friends of internal 
improvements in Greene County, which county Campbell did 
not represent, headed by Dr. Alexander Williams, determined 
to manifest their approval of his course on this question, by 
asking him to partake of a public dinner in Greeneville, the home 
of Johnson. The demonstration was also intended as a rebuke 
to Johnson for his course. Mr. Campbell accepted and at- 
tended. He was complimented and toasted, and of course made 
a speech justifying his vote. I was present, though only a 
mere boy. I cannot say that I had any decided opinions on 
the question at issue one way or the other. But I wanted to 
attend a banquet, which word had to my inexperienced mind a 
magic sound. 

After the banqueting was over, I met Mr. Johnson on the 
street, where he talked to me quite a while. Looking back at 
it now, his talk to me, a lad of fifteen, seems singular. He 
was somewhat under the influence of liquor and in a towering 
rage. Dr. Williams, Campbell, and his other enemies, came in 
for a due share of his compliments. On account of my age, he 
seemed not to regard my presence at the banquet as offensive, 
and treated me as one of tender years. 

his enemy sitting on the porch. He realized at a glance that there was 
danger of a personal difiiculty. Captain Bell was at the carriage the 
moment it arrived to welcome the great Chief. Jackson tooii in the situa- 
tion as quick as thought. Without alighting, he explained to his host 
the danger of a difficulty, apologized for the trouble he had given, asked 
to be excused, and drove on some nine miles to Captain William Lackey's 
for his breakfast. 

This illustrates what was well known to many persons in Tennessee, 
that while General Jackson was a man of unquestioned courage, he 
showed discretion as well as valor where the former was demanded. 

This incident very recently, and long after the above was written, has 
been published in a boolc entitled "Lost Stitches in Tennessee History," 
but many of the facts are misstated, according to the statement made to 
me by Captain Bell. 


The result was, as intended, that when the next canvass 
came around, in 1837, Campbell was put forward by the friends 
of railroads as a candidate in opposition to Johnson, to repre- 
sent Greene and Washington Counties. The race was hot and 
bitter on the part of Johnson, but dignified, manly, and earnest 
on the part of Campbell. Johnson proved, as ought to have 
been foreseen, more than a match for his opponent on the stump. 
In this canvass he gave evidence of that talent for playing on 
the popular prejudices and the passions of men which after- 
ward made him so noted. Campbell had voted in the Legisla- 
ture for a bill to employ a geologist, to investigate and report 
upon the mineral and agricultural resources of the State. 
Under this law, Dr. Girard Troost, one of the most learned 
scientists of the da}'^, was employed at a small salary. Johnson 
assailed this law and arraigned Campbell for voting for it 
with all the arguments and ridicule he possessed. He held up 
to the scorn and amusement of the people Dr. Troost's travels 
about the State, peering about for snails, snakes, shells, rocks, 
and fossils. Here again the people were about to lose their 
liberties. Extravagance was creeping into high places. Under 
the lashing ridicule poured upon the head of Campbell, for this 
and other sins, he appeared a veritable culprit. But notwith- 
standing, he was popular, especially in Washington (his own) 
County, and was elected by a small plurality. 

Andrew Johnson was relegated to private life, going back 
to his tailor's bench in no pleasant temper. It gave him, 
however, two more years for study and preparation for his 
subsequent remarkable career. Those who may have supposed 
his political future was ended by this defeat knew nothing of 
the force of the dormant fires burning within his breast. There 
never was a time, and there never would have come a time, had he 
lived years longer and achieved even more distinguished honors, 
when that restless spirit would have been quiet and satisfied. 

In 1835 Johnson was known as a Whig, and in a legislative 
caucus helped to nominate Judge Hugh Lawson White, of 
Tennessee, as a candidate for the presidency in opposition to 
Martin Van Burcn. Judge White did not perhaps at that time 
call himself a Whig, but he was supported by Whigs and by 
many voters not in that party, in opposition to Jackson and 
Van Buren. From that time till 1839 Johnson's politics was 
unknown or not clearly defined. The Whigs thought he was 


still of their faith, but not of a pronounced tvpe. He was 
certainly not an open Democrat. INIany bitter sayings of his 
against the Democratic party used to be repeated, and are 
remembered even to this day. 

In 1839 Campbell was a candidate for re-election, as a Demo- 
crat. Johnson arranged with the Whigs of Washington County, 
as it was alleged at the time, to run as a Whig in opposition to 
Campbell, provided the Whigs would put out no other candi- 
date. Soon after this arrangement was made, Robert Sevier, 
a pronounced Whig, announced himself as a candidate. This 
disturbed the plans of the Whigs, as well as those of Mr. John- 
son. In order to defeat Campbell, which was then the ruling 
passion of this ambitious man, it would not do for two Whigs 
to oppose him. So he took a new tack. In a speech at Jacob 
Broyles' in Greene County he declared himself a follower of 
John C. Calhoun in politics ; in other words, a Calhoun State's 
Rights Democrat. But by January, 1840, having defeated Camp- 
bell, he seemed to tire of his loneliness as the almost solitary 
follower in the State of South Carolina's favorite statesman. 
So he now joined the regular Jacksonian Democracy, and 
supported Van Buren for the presidency.* 

Early in his political career Johnson found in the labor of 
the convicts in our penitentiary a fruitful field for the display 
of his peculiar genius. There were perhaps onlj'^ tvvo or three 
hundred convicts in the penitentiary when his keen intellect 
first detected the danger lurking therein to the free labor of 
the State. He at once sounded the alarm to his unsuspecting 
countrymen, and pointed out the danger of this competition. 
His cry of warning was sounded in all his speeches. This 
evil must be extinguished ! The danger of the people from 
competition of convict with free labor, arising from these two 
or three hundred convicts shut up within stone walls, was 
scarcely less than that threatened by the destruction of taverns, 
wagon traffic, and by the building of railroads. All were, in 
the estimation of Mr. Johnson, evils of gigantic proportions, 
and must, like the infant Hercules, be strangled in their be- 

*Canipbell, who was a quiet, excellent man, lived a retired life, over- 
shadowed by his great rival, until about the year 1855, when he was 
elected to Cougi-ess, but died before the expiration of his term. 


Democracy of Greene County Johnson Elector for State at Large on 
Van Buren Ticket, 1840 Elected State Senator. 1841 Elected to Con- 
gress, 1843 Represented First District for Ten Years Introduced 
Homestead Bill During Second Term Elected Governor of Tennes- 
see, 1853. 

The Democracy of Greene County in the olden times de- 
serves special notice, because it was the genuine article and 
had the true trade mark. There was no such thing as counter- 
feiting it. It deserves mention for the further reason that 
upon it, as a foundation, Mr. Johnson builded his political 
fortunes. To the Democrats of that county, as he always told 
them, he owed all he was. He took them as babes, and first 
by milk, and afterward by strong meats, nurtured them into 
the stalwarts they became. He made of them a muscular race 
of men. He knew how to build men as well as how to clothe 
them. No granite foundation was surer or firmer. There was 
an exact fitness between him and these people. The}' were solid, 
compact, petrified. In vain opposition orators launched facts 
and arguments against the incrustation of prejudice which en- 
veloped these Greene County Democrats. The impact rang 
like an anvil stricken by a hammer, but it made no impression. 
He led them whithersoever he would. He knew their names 
and they knew his voice. A stranger thej' would not follow. 
With an almost religious faith these men had always believed 
in Andrew Jackson, and they feared when Jackson departed, 
all would be over with this government, and that there would 
be left no one fit to rule. When Johnson appeared they were 
consoled with the hope that he might save the country. Long 
before any others, the Democracy of Greene County saw in 
Johnson a successor to Jackson. They always expected his 
coming "to the Presidency." It was a thing in their estimation 
that must happen. 

While Johnson became a type of those who were to follow, 
he had a prototype in one John Balch, a man wlio was in his 
meridian when Johnson came on the public stage. Tlie former 



was a son of the noted Presbyterian divine, Hezekiah Balch, 
the founder of Greeneville College. Hezekiah Balch was a ripe 
scholar, an original thinker, and elegant gentleman, and was, 
withal, noble and brave. The son, by some freak of nature, 
was rough, wild, dissipated, and cared for neither God nor man. 
Ambitious and aspiring, he possessed ability sufficient to be- 
come a leader of the ignorant. Wholly without the restraint 
of moral discipline, or fear of public sentiment, there was noth- 
ing John Balch was not ready for in politics, and he was, more- 
over, emboldened by his successes. 

A few years later there appeared another man, Jacob Bewley, 
of even more talent and shrewdness. Bewley was rather a phe- 
nomenal man, possessing great natural ability, and being en- 
dowed with cunning in a high degree. He always preferred 
shadowy ways, and could tread the most devious paths. In per- 
son he was large, his head immense, his voice low and sweet, and 
his conversation charming, abounding in wit, humor, and pa- 
thetic incident. Altogether he was perhaps a little too "child- 
like and bland." He had always not only smiles but a copious 
supply of tears ready for use. 

Balch was educated; Bewley was not. These tAvo men were 
always candidates for the Legislature against each other, and 
each was several times elected. Their discussions were pitched 
on a plane of vulgarity seldom surpassed. Balch was the 
bolder, Bewley the more artful of the two. There was indeed 
no limit to Bewley's subtle ways.* 

Bewley was not a bad man in the larger sense of the term. 
He was a good neighbor and citizen. These things I have 
referred to were simply the innocent divertisements of politics 
the means of winning votes. The times were ver}-^ primitive a 
period of Arcadian simplicity. Customs have changed vastly 
since those days, when the result of an election depended on the 

*In one of their canvasses Balcb repeatedly charged Bewley with hav- 
ing voted in the Legislature for some measure that was very unpopular, 
and read from the Journal to prove it. Bewley became very sore 
under it. AVatehing his opportunity, he slipped the book out of Balch's 
saddle-pockets, tore out the leaf containing the vote, and replaced the 
book. At the next speaking Balch made his usual charge, which Bewley 
solemnly denied, daring him to prove it. Balch reached for his Journal, 
turned to the page, but was confounded to hnd that the proof was gone. 
Bewley, exultant, and with tears in his eyes, called on the people to 
witness how his competitor had slandered an innocent man. Balch 
charged in vain that Bewley had torn a leaf from the Journal. 


number of votes cast for the respective candidates. That was 
supposed in that rude age to be democratic-repubhcan gov- 
ernment. How benighted ! Cimmerian darkness ! Now what 
is called "the machine" manufactures as well as counts votes. 
It possesses the quality of throwing out the "tares" which the 
enemy may have sown, or of transmuting them into pure wheat. 
Further, it can duplicate the wheat, or multiply it to meet every 
demand. A singular peculiarity about this "machine" is, that, 
with almost human sensitiveness, it shrinks from public gaze. 
A single prying eye deranges the machinery. It loves shady 
retreats as do poets and lovers, and its most effective work is 
done in the darkness with no eye to see save that of the machine 
boss. Only two are needed to run it ; indeed one skillful man 
is sufficient. It can be seen at a glance what a great invention 
the "machine" is. No need of a candidate's making speeches or 
spending money, if he will only grease the machine and set it 
running right. For more than fifteen years Balch and Bewley 
were the ruling spirits in the elections of Greene County. By 
these men was the Democracy of that county molded and pre- 
pared for the coming and long reign of Andrew Johnson, a 
greater man than either. When parties divided in 1835, Bewley 
became a Whig, Balch remaining always a genuine Democrat. 

Another man, John ^NIcGaughe}^, sometimes figured in these 
contests, but, in contrast with Balch and Bewley, McGaughey 
was tall, grave, and dignified, and was possessed of fair ability 
and high integrity, considering the hazy political atmosphere of 
the time. 

Amid such surroundings Andrew Johnson first opened his 
eyes on the political world. It is no great wonder that he 
sought to climb by the ladder he had seen Balch and Bewley 
successfully ascending. We are all more or less influenced by 
environment. How much the natural bent of Johnson's mind 
had to be twisted to make it conform to existing conditions 
need not trouble the historian, for if any such twisting, if any 
moral struggle ever took place, no one knew it. Judging him 
by the subsequent acts and words, he met the very conditions 
that suited his nature. He found the Greene County Democrats 
in a plastic, indeed in almost a chaotic state. They had one 
fixed belief only an immutable faith in Andrew Jackson. 
Beyond this their sober minds had never learned to stray. 
Johnson seized on this fact to weld them into a compact mass. 


In the winter or spring of 1840 Johnson, having concluded 
that his chances of promotion were best in the Democratic party, 
called that party together in mass meeting in Greeneville. The 
time had come for him to proclaim himself and his mission. 
Henceforth he was to be a prophet unto this people. He sent 
out runners to let them know that he had a message to deliver. 
On the appointed day all the strongholds of Democracy sent 
forth their men. There was scarcely an able-bodied man left 
at home. They came on horseback, on foot, in wagons. They 
came with no music, with no banners, but silently, in the 
strength and simple power of an irresistible outpouring. A 
rude platform, made of goods boxes, posted against the court 
house, served as a rostrum. Between ten and eleven o'clock 
Johnson appeared on the scene, with weighty thought depicted 
on his brow. George W. Foute, Clerk of the County Court, 
came forward with the resolutions prepared under the immediate 
direction of Mr. Johnson. Foute was a clever fellow, had a 
clear, sonorous voice, and was an admirable reader. He always 
read the resolutions. These were an epitome of the speech 
which was to follow, for Johnson never allowed but one speech 
on such occasions, and that was his own. 

The resolutions recited the controversy which had taken 
place between the two antagonistic forms of government that 
divided our fathers in framing the Federal Constitution. They 
gave the views of Hamilton in favor of a strong centralized 
government ; and held him up as the father of Federalism, and 
Jefferson as the father of the Democratic party. They assailed 
John Adams and the Alien and Sedition LaAvs ; praised the 
resolutions of '98 and '99; charged bargain, intrigue, corrup- 
tion on Henry Clay. They portrayed General Jackson as the 
second Saviour of his country, especially eulogizing him for 
strangling the Bank of the United States, the great greedy 
monster that was about to destroy the liberties of the people; 
and finally, these resolutions never failed to arraign the Whig 
party as the successor of the old Federal party, which had 
hung out blue lights to the enemy, and had worn black cockades 
in the war of 1812, and had tried to paralyze the war by the 
Hartford Convention. 

Mr. Johnson's speech followed in the same line. He spoke 
usually from two to three hours. He commenced in a low, 
soft tone, and grew louder as he warmed up. After an hour 


or so, his roice rang out on the air in loud, not unmusical 
tones, heard distinctly a great distance, and seemed particu- 
larly adapted to the open air. There was no hurried utter- 
ance, yet no hesitation, no dragging, no effort after words. 
The speech went right on, the exact language coming to his lips 
to express the idea in his mind. Altogether, on such occasions, 
he was forcible and powerful, without being eloquent. He 
held his crowd spellbound. There was always in his speeches 
more or less wit, humor, and anecdote, which relieved them from 
tedium and heaviness. 

On Mr. Johnson's great days Richard M. Woods, for many 
years high Sheriff of Greene County, and at one time United 
States marshal, was always present to preserve order, and to 
give the sign by nods and smiles when to shout or when to 
laugh. A good man he was, brave and upright. He had been 
Captain under General Jackson in 1812. In many respects he 
was like the old Chief, being a natural leader of men, and was 
a venerable patriarch in the ranks of Democracy. 

As Mr. Johnson grew warm and hurled the terrible thunder 
of his wrath against the old Federalists, the shouts sent up 
by the Democracy could be heard far and wide among the 
surrounding hills. As he pictured the old Federal party in 
fearful colors, and pathetically entreated the people to stand 
firm upon the Constitution, his hearers would huddle closer 
together, as if for mutual protection, and plant their feet 
more firmly upon the ground. When he informed them, as he 
never perhaps once in his life failed to do, that "eternal 
vigilance was the price of liberty," and that "power was always 
stealing from the many to give to the few," they would furtively 
glance around to see if anyone was trying to steal from them ! 

After traversing the whole wide field of politics, Mr. Johnson 
wound up by the use of a figure drawn from the road, ex- 
horting the party in an impassioned appeal to stand together 
"hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, foot to foot, and to make 
a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether." This 
delicate allusion to the honored custom among the wagoners 
of that day of doubling teams, and assisting one another out 
of mudholes by all lending a helping hand in pushing and pull- 
ing, seemed to set the old wagoners wild with delight. The 
crowd became tumultuous. Its hurrahs were like the sound 
of many waters. The din and uproar became almost infernal. 


But, after all, these things were, as someone has said of Wag- 
ner's music, "not so bad as they sounded." 

It was usually nearly night when the crowd dispersed. In 
their boundless enthusiasm they tarried late. Many of those 
present lived fifteen or twenty miles away, or even farther. For 
such a long journey, a supply of strength was laid in at the 
saloons. When night overtook them on their homeward way, 
in the bewildered condition of their intellects, they recalled 
dim images of "blue lights and black cockades," and in every 
dark wood they feared to see these monsters, whatever they 
were, confront them ! 

While the resolutions of this first meeting were not patented, 
or secured by copyright, they were kept and preserved for the 
next meeting. These meetings were held biennially. Substan- 
tially the same resolutions were always brought out and used. 
Why not.'* They were constructed b}^ the best workmen and 
out of the best material. As they dealt with no living issue, 
it was never necessary to alter them. They also formed the 
text for Johnson's speech and as that was alwaj^s in those days 
in substance the same, it was manifestly best that the resolu- 
tions should assume and hold a permanent form also. This had 
one great advantage they became, like a sun dial, a regulator 
from year to year. By them the Democracy of that county 
could always find out where it stood, "where it was at." Other- 
wise there was danger of straying and getting lost. 

The picture I have given of the Jacksonian Democracy of 
Greene County as it was in olden times was more or less true 
of the party in all upper East Tennessee at that period. 

I have never quite understood how these Democrats man- 
aged to change front so suddenly in December, 1860. In 
October Johnson told them that Breckinridge, Davis, & Co., 
were right, that Lincoln and Seward were traitors, trying to 
overthrow the Constitution. In a little over one month later, 
he told them that Breckinridge and Davis were traitors, and 
that Lincoln and Seward were patriots. He had swung clear 
around the circle. When his followers saw what he had done, 
they quickly and obediently did the same. It was truly touch- 
ing to see the devotion of the "old guard" to their leader. I 
shall not inquire too closely into this change on his part, 
or on theirs, because it brought over to the L^nion side as 
thoroughly a disciplined set of veteran soldiers as ever went into 


battle. Nor can I exactly account for the fact that the long- 
trained band of Whigs of Greene County, who had always 
been Union men, turned and fled to the other side when they 
saw Johnson and his old followers approaching as friends. 
Perhaps they feared the gift-bearing Greeks : ^^Timeo Danaos 
et dona ferentes." To use Mr. Johnson's favorite figure, when 
these scarred Democratic veterans looked across the "circle" 
and saw their old Whig enemies standing on the Democratic 
camping ground, directly facing them, it must have been a 
curious as well as a puzzling reflection to Johnson's followers 
to know how the Whigs got there. Some of these Democrats 
no doubt, were perplexed as much as Landon C Haynes' cow- 
boy, who, when lost in the depths of the forest, exclaimed: 
"Good Lord! on which side of the creek am I?" But it mat- 
tered not if the new situation was not clear to the bewildered 
intellects of these staunch Johnson worshippers ; they followed 
the star of Caesar, and that w as enough ! 

In 1840 Andrew Johnson occupied a high position in the 
Democratic party of the State. He had ceased to be a Calhoun 
Dcmoci'at, and had identified himself with the Democracy of Ten- 
nessee. He had by this time become well known throughout 
the State, having served two terms in the Legislature, and 
when the party, in the winter of ISiO, selected electors for the 
State at large on the Van Buren ticket, he was made one of them. 
This selection was a notable one and very honorable to him. 
He was only thirty-tAvo years of age, and had been in public 
life but five years ; indeed, only three, for from 1837 to 1839 he 
was retired, having failed in an election. In the State at that 
period the Democratic party had such great men as Felix 
Grundy, James K. Polk, Aaron V. Brown, Cave Johnson, A. 0. 
P. Nicholson, Andrew Ewing, and others, nearly all of whom 
were then, or afterward, Senators in Congress or Governors 
of the State. Yet over the heads of these men Johnson was 
selected to bear the Democratic banner in the bitter contest 
of 1840. 

The electors for the State at large on the Whig side were 
Ephraim H. Foster and Spencer Jarnagin. Foster had lately 
been a United States Senator. The Democratic Legislature 
had instructed him and his colleague, the venerable Judge Hugh 
L. White, to vote for the subtreasury bill in Congress, and to 
support all the leading measures of Van Buren's administration. 


They declined to obey instructions, resigned, and came home, 
to appeal to the people. Judge White died soon afterward. 
Early in the spring of 1840, Foster entered upon the most 
memorable and brilliant canvass ever conducted in the State. 
He was a splendid speaker, commanding in appearance, mag- 
netic and captivating in address, a veritable knight in honor 
and courage. The political conditions of the spring of 1840 
were all favorable to such a canvass as Foster inaugurated. 
He was bitter in denunciation, fiery and eloquent in his appeals. 
Wherever he went he aroused a resistless enthusiasm never wit- 
nessed before nor since in this State. He swept through the 
counties on the high tide of popular excitement, with the eclat 
of a conqueror. Literally thousands upon thousands followed 
him. His speeches, while perhaps equaled occasionally by others, 
though unquestionably of a very high order, were so ex- 
actly in harmony with the spirit of the times and the temper 
of the people, that they produced by far the greatest effect 
ever produced by any public speaker in the State. 

Foster's associate on the electorial ticket, Spencer Jarnagin, 
was his intellectual superior, but greatly his inferior as a 
speaker and a leader. I doubt if the State has ever produced 
the intellectual superior of Jarnagin. He deserved to be ranked 
below only such men as Webster. But he had no ambition, no 
high purpose, no great driving, moral force. He reached the 
United States Senate, but achieved no lasting fame. 

Johnson, in this canvass, undertook to follow Foster and 
Jarnagin in their triumphal march. The latter would not divide 
time with him. Johnson, therefore, did what was under the cir- 
cumstances the wisest thing he followed on, and drew off all 
the hearers he could from Foster and Jarnagin. His speeches, 
though not wanting in a certain Johnsonian ability, were tame 
in comparison with the stirring battle cry of Foster. I heard 
the latter often during this canvass. Johnson certainly never 
appeared to a more sorry disadvantage, than when thus trail- 
ing after the magnificent Foster, to whom the shouting thousands 
were doing homage. But no small obstacle could daunt John- 
son's courage, nor prevent him from going forward in his des- 
tined career. Long afterward, in 1861, 1 saw him, apparently the 
very impersonation of noble patriotism, followed by nearly as 
large crowds crowds of determined Union men as followed 
Foster in 1840. 


In 1841 Johnson was elected a State Senator. In 1843 he 
was first elected a member of Congress. In 1845 he was again 
elected. It was during his second term that he introduced his 
"Homestead Bill," which proposed to give to every head of a 
family, out of the public domains, a homestead of one hundred 
and sixty acres, provided he would settle on it. Session after 
session Johnson continued to introduce this measure. Finally 
in 1862 the Bill, or a somewhat similar one, was taken up, 
passed, and became a law. A vast majority of the people of the 
United States ridiculed this measure at first. I regarded it 
as an act of pure demagogism. It was believed that the motive 
which actuated Johnson was to gain popularity rather than a 
sincere sympathy with the people. But the measure has proved 
to be in some respects a most beneficent law. Under it the 
distant territories have been settled by an industrious and hardy 
class, who are adding greatly to the annual wealth of the na- 
tion. It has given homes to hundreds of thousands of people, 
who otherwise would be homeless. It has, also, to some extent, 
arrested the policy that was becoming dangerous of bestowing 
vast subsidies on grasping railroad corporations. This at one 
time threatened to absorb all our public domain, and has ab- 
sorbed a large part of it. Johnson was unquestionably the 
author of the Homestead policy, or, more correctly, the author 
of the first bill introduced in Congress, giving to each actual 
settler a homestead. The credit of the passage of the measure 
is sometimes given, and in a certain sense correctly, to Galusha 
A. Grow, of Pennsjdvania. But Johnson had been advocating 
and introducing homestead bills long before Grow entered Con- 
gress. Johnson introduced the first bill on the subject in 1846. 
He continued to press the matter on the attention of the House 
as long as he remained a member of that body. Mr. Grow did not 
enter Congress until 1851. The Republican party finally 
adopted the measure as a part of their platform, and it was 
passed mainly by Republican votes. The only members of the 
House from Tennessee, besides Johnson, who ever voted for this 
measure were George W. Jones and Mr. Clements. To John 
Quincy Adams belongs the credit of first advocating the policy 
of giving our public lands to actual settlers. Johnson probably 
caught the idea from him. 

When Johnson became a candidate for Congress the district 
had recently been changed, so as to make it Democratic, by 


about fifteen hundred majority. For ten years he continued 
to represent the first district, being elected by about fifteen 
hundred majority each time except in 1847, when his majority 
dropped down to 314. In 1851 Johnson was opposed by Lan- 
don C. Haynes, a leading Democrat, who was his bitter enemy, 
and had long desired to have his seat in Congress. Haynes was 
a lawyer, a fluent, ready speaker, and regarded as a man of 
great eloquence. His voice was excellent, and he graced his 
speeches with wit and humor. Altogether he was a very tak- 
ing popular orator, but glittering rather than solid. The cam- 
paign was intensely bitter and personal, the rival candidates 
accusing each other of every dishonorable act they had ever 
committed, or had been charged with committing. For six hours 
each day they bandied epithets and exchanged accusations, any 
one of which, if true, was sufficient to render the culprit unfit 
to represent an honest people in Congress. Let it be kept in 
mind that this canvass was conducted between two of the lead- 
ing Democrats of the State. Johnson had already served eight 
3^ears in Congress. Haynes had been in the I^egislature several 
times, and had been a Speaker of the lower house. He was 
regarded by some of his too partial friends as a greater man 
than Johnson. When Tennessee left the Union in 1861, he was 
honored by an election as a Senator to the Confederate Con- 

The result of the canvass was just as I would have expected. 
The superior ability, courage, and tact of Johnson triumphed. 
Although Haynes was the better speaker, he lacked the force, 
the steady courage of Johnson, and the latter constantly got 
the advantage of his eloquent competitor. In truth, eloquence 
never availed much against the irresistible logic of facts always 
so dexterously used by this artful man. No rhetoric, no amount 
of word painting could withstand the trenchant blows he struck. 
Neither Haynes, nor Gustavus A. Henry, the most effective 
speaker in the State, could counteract the impression produced 
by the array of facts used by Johnson. With these there was 
always served a sufficient amount of demagogism to give them an 
exceedingly agreeable flavor. It was no surprise, therefore, that 
Johnson was elected, he receiving the larger part of the Whig 
votes of the district. 

In 1853 Andrew Johnson was nominated by his party for 
Governor. He earnestly sought the nomination. Outside of 


East Tennessee neither the leaders nor the mass of the party 
favored his nomination. In the middle part of the State, where 
a majority of the party resided, delegates were appointed to 
the nominating convention favorable to the Hon. Andrew Ewing 
of Nashville. Ewing was an eminent lawyer, a man of the 
purest and the most exalted character. He had represented the 
Nashville district in Congress while it was Whig in politics, and 
was very popular, being a member of an old aristocratic family.* 

Johnson's nomination came about in this wise. Ewing, some- 
time in the past, had carelessly assented to an opinion ex- 
pressed by a third party that Johnson ought to be nominated 
for Governor, as a rebuke to the Whigs for gerrymandering 
his district. It was a mere thoughtless expression, by which he 
had no intention of committing himself to Johnson. This 
casual remark was communicated to Johnson, who artfully chose 
to treat it as a pledge in his favor. Ewing had no recollection 
of ever making such a pledge. When the convention assembled, 
Johnson, by letter or verbal message, said to Ewing, "I place 
my interests in your hands." Ewing arose in the convention, 
when it was on the point of nominating him, and having read 
Johnson's letter, withdrew from the contest, saying that a sense 
of delicacy forbade his being any longer a candidate, and ad- 
vising his friends to support Johnson. Thereupon the latter 
was nominated. Yet in 1857, Johnson aided in electing Nichol- 
son Senator over Ewing. 

The leaders throughout the State, with rare exceptions, then 
and ever afterward, were opposed to Johnson. They had also 
been opposed to him in his race for Congress. They despised his 
methods and hated him. He had, however, a solid support 
among the common people, and with this backing he easily 
secured the submission of the leaders. He had a way of either 
winning over the latter, or intimidating them into silence. The 
little ones he won by coaxing and flattery; the powerful, he se- 
cured as masters in those days secured obedience from their 
slaves. Many a proud slaveholder in Tennessee had to submit to 
Johnson's castigation. His defeat at any time would have de- 
lighted them, but they did not dare move a little finger against 

When Democrats crossed the path of his advancement, John- 

*The celebrated Henry Watterson married the daughter of Andrew 


son was as ready to fight them as he was the Whigs He bristled 
all over with fight. His life had been a desperate struggle, 
first with poverty, afterward with political and personal foes. 
All along the line of his public career lay the bodies of his 
slain enemies. Party, to him, as to most politicians, was valu- 
able only because it enabled him to mount upon the shoulders 
of his followers and thus rise to power. What a mass of cor- 
ruption party sometimes makes men carry ! The boasted love 
of the people, with most politicians, is an empty pretense for 
the sake of authority, and "hath this extent, no more." The 
people often rejoice under the load they bear, supposing they 
are bearing aloft a divinity, when in fact they are carrying only 
an "Old ]\Ian of the Sea," whom they cannot shake off. 

Johnson's Whig competitor for Governor was Gustavus A. 
Henry. He was decidedly the most delightful orator as well 
as one of the most elegant men in the State. At mass meet- 
ings, where oratory was needed, he was always the hero of the 
day. Frank and manly, in person he was grand, in counte- 
nance fascinating, in manner electrical, with a voice of sur- 
passing melody. 

But when it came to logic, facts, and hard licks, in daily 
debates, with his adroit competitor, Henry's best friends could 
hardly say he was Johnson's full match. The result was, John- 
son was elected by a majority of 2250 votes. From that time 
until the breaking out of the Civil War, Henry was never 
prominent in the politics of the State. When the war came on, 
he was elected a Senator to the Confederate Congress. The 
incident that occurred in this canvass for Governor worth men- 
tioning, was a good-humored passage between the two candi- 
dates, in their speeches at Knoxville. Johnson in his closing 
rejoinder said: "They call my competitor 'The Eagle Orator.' 
The eagle is a bird of prey. Where is his prey.^ I see no 
blood on his beak, I do not feel his talons in my flesh." "No," 
said Henry, as quick as thought, "the eagle is a royal bird, and 
never preys on carrion." 

William B. Campbell was the retiring Governor. For some 
cause he had not been a candidate for re-election. He was an 
honorable gentleman, and possessed great personal popularity. 
As a Colonel of the 1st Tennessee Regiment in the Mexican 
War, he had won distinction as a gallant officer and soldier. 
No man in the State stood better with the people. When 


the day for inauguration of the new Governor arrived, Gov- 
ernor Campbell, with true courtesy, called at Johnson's hotel, 
and informed him that he was ready with the carriage to escort 
him to the inaugural ceremonies. Mr. Johnson replied, as was 
correctly reported, that he did not want a carriage, that he 
was going to walk with the people. And walk he did! What 
was the astonishment of the stately Campbell, who so highly 
respected the dignity of the office he was about to relinquish! 
But, confounded as Campbell must have been at the unex- 
ampled precedent set by the new Governor, this was as nothing 
in comparison with what his feelings must have been when he 
heard from the lips of the new dignitary what is known as the 
"converging lines," or "Jacob's Ladder" Inaugural Address. 
Such a document it is impossible to find among grave State 
papers anywhere on this continent during our entire history. 
Johnson in this drew a picture of a new Commonwealth, under 
the reign of Democracy, or a Theocracy, for it is impossible 
to tell which he meant. The lines are so drawn as to leave a 
confused impression of what was intended. The idea appears 
to have been to draw an analogy between the Christian Religion 
and the "Democracy" of Tennessee, of which Mr. Johnson was 
the type as well as the exemplification. Imagine the extreme 
absurdity of comparing any political party to the Christian 
religion ! If any less prominent person had written this address, 
he would have been set down as a crank. It was in fact a 
ridiculous production, mere idle vaporing. It might well be 
consigned to that vast receptacle of nonsense, of light and airy 
nothings, described by ^Milton 

"As a limbo large and broad, since called 
The Paradise of Fools." 

Among other things Johnson said that Democracy and Re- 
ligion are "moving along converging lines toAvard each other." 
This was doubtless new to some good people present who had 
fears that Democracy was going in an opposite direction ! 
"When," said he, "Democracy and Religion shall meet and unite, 
the Milennial morning will dawn." No doubt of that I But 
when shall that come to pass? He also said that "Democracy 
and the Divinity in Man," are the same. This may be so, but 
the old Whigs of that day, in their blindness, certainly had a 
different opinion of this "Divinit3\" If the "Democracy of Ten- 


nessee" was its highest manifestation, these Whigs, foolish 
people ! would have preferred some other "divinity." 

More than two thousand years ago Plato wrote a treatise on 
a "Republic"' conceived in his own great mind. In the fifteenth 
century, Sir Thomas More wrote a book entitled "Utopia" 
or "An Ideal Republic." Recently Edward Bellamy has written 
his celebrated "Looking Backward," which presents a new plan 
for a Republic. All these ideal forms of Government were 
located on this earth. Johnson, on the contrary, locates the 
place of the reign of Democracy somewhere in the dizzy heights 
of the infinite above, with no way of getting there except by 
Jacob's ladder. But he assuringly told the young men that they 
could find a position somewhere between the lower and upper 
extremes of the ladder, commensurate, at least, with their vir- 
tues and merit, if not equal to their ambition. 

I doubt if Mr. Johnson could ever have gotten many to 
locate in this empyreal commonwealth. Jacob's ladder sets up 
very straight and high. Few dare try to climb it. It is hard to 
go upward. But turn the ladder the other way, and how easy 
and natural to go downward ! 

This enchanting vision, seen by the prophetic mind of Mr. 
Johnson of this "Milennial Morning," of the reign of Democracy 
and the "Divinity of Man," and an ideal republic in the 
celestial regions, was received by that hard and perverse 
generation only with laughter and ridicule. It only proved 
how far his thoughts outran his times, and adds another example 
to the many previous ones that a prophet is not without honor, 
save in his own country ! 

Even Nineveh, that great and wicked city, believed Jonah, 
and repented at his preaching, but Tennessee refused to be- 
lieve the words of her great prophet ! 


Succeeded Himself as Governor. 18:55 Campaign with Gentry Arraign- 
ment of "Know-Notbing Party." 

The canvass of 1855, in the political world, was one of in- 
tense interest and expectation. A new party, calling itself the 
American, but popularly styled the "Know-Nothing Party," had 
mysteriously appeared, secretly manifesting a strength in cer- 
tain quarters that threatened the very existence of old political 
organizations. No one knew where this movement would end, 
nor what would be the extent of its destructive work. At first 
many aspiring persons of both the old political parties, who 
wished to be on the strong side, hastened to make sure of their 
footing by joining it. Its first impulse forward gave promise 
of universal victory. The old politicians were in absolute 

Unfortunately for the American party an election for Gov- 
ernor was to take place in Virginia in the spring of that 
year. The celebrated Henry A. Wise was the Democratic can- 
didate for that position. He was too daring to be intimidated 
by any danger, however great. With all his energy and spirit 
he took the field, and assailed the new party with an audacity 
and a bitterness which he only could command. After one of 
the most intensely acrimonious contests ever known, Wise was 
elected, and Know-Nothingism destroyed in that State. 

A general election was to take place in Tennessee in the 
following August. Mr. Johnson was the Democratic candidate 
to succeed himself as Governor. ]\Ieredith P. Gentry was nomi- 
nated by the American and Whig parties as his competitor. 
Gentry had been for a long time prior to 1853 a distinguished 
member of Congress. As he was known to be brave and brilliant, 
extraordinary things were expected of him, and it was believed 
that Johnson would be no match for him on the stump. Gentry 
was regarded indeed as one of the first orators of the time, even 
in that striking period of fine orators. John Quincy Adams, 
the sage and statesman, had pronounced him the best orator in 
Congress. He had come upon the stage of public life before 



the decadence in statesmanship began in Tennessee, while great 
men still held public sway. Jackson continued powerful, if not 
dominant. The profound Hugh Lawson White still held his 
honored seat in the Senate of the United States. The accom- 
plished and sweet tongued Felix Grundy, Mr. Clay's only rival 
in their young days, had not yet passed the meridian of his 
splendid career. Polk had gained a national reputation as a 
debater in Congress, and as Speaker of the House. The gifted 
John Bell, while still young, had won renown as a thinker, and 
as the able Speaker of the House gave sure promise of 
that high ability afterward conspicuously manifested. The 
chivalrous Ephraim H. Foster had secured the second time a 
seat in the United States Senate by his masterly canvass of 
1840, when he traversed the State from end to end, drawing 
crowds literally of thousands and tens of thousands, arousing 
a storm of wild enthusiasm never witnessed in this State either 
before or since. The intellectual giant, Spencer Jarnagin, who 
afterward drew, as a lawyer and a statesman, the highest com- 
pliments for ability from INlr. Webster and Judge Story, in that 
same canvass, also obtained a seat in the Senate as the col- 
league of Mr. Foster. The knightly Bailie Peyton was in his 
prime, having long since achieved national reputation as a mem- 
ber of Congress. Cave Johnson and Aaron V. Brown, each of 
whom served in Congress for many years, and each of whom be- 
came a Cabinet officer, and one the Governor of the State, were 
both distinguished for their talents. James C. Jones, the farmer, 
had suddenly appeared and astonished men by his dashing ora- 
tory and unequaled powers as a popular speaker, which enabled 
him in two successive canvasses for Governor to triumph signally 
over the adroit debater, James K. Polk. About this time Emer- 
son Etheridge came upon the public stage as one of the first 
debaters of the State, and though young, gave promise of that 
marked power which he afterward successfully sustained for 
nearly fiftj^ years. Suddenly, too, William T. Haskell, while 
scarcely twenty-one years of age, began to dazzle men by the 
most extraordinary display of brilliant rhetoric ever heard in the 
State, and perhaps ever heard anywhere in this country, except 
from Patrick Henry and S. S. Prentiss. Besides these distin- 
guished men, there were also Andrew Johnson, A. O. P. Nichol- 
son, Milton Brown, Edwin Ewing, Gustavus A. Henry, Andrew 
Ewing, Robert L. Caruthers, William T. Senter, Thomas A. R. 
Nelson, John Netherland, Landon C. Haynes, and John H. 


Crozier, all men of ability. Certainly this is a long list of 
remarkable men, all in active life at one time, and all in one 
State. None of these, however, surpassed Gentry in power as 
an orator. His oratory consisted in the condensation of noble 
thought, presented in the boldest, most striking language, and in 
an irresistible manner. Evidently Tennessee has sadly degen- 
erated since the bright epoch of 1840. 

In 1855 j\lr. Johnson was regarded as the strongest man on 
the stump in his own party, in the State. Expectation, there- 
fore, stood on tip-toe in anticipation of the meeting of the two 
candidates for Governor. 

The first discussion was to take place at ]Murfreesboro, 
Rutherford County, thirty miles East of Nashville, in the very 
center of the rich lands of Middle Tennessee. This was a Whig 
County by a few hundred majority. Its people were wealthy 
and intelligent. On the day fixed for the opening of the canvass 
the leading politicians and citizens of Nashville and of all the 
adjoining towns and counties flocked to Murfreesboro to hear 
the opening discussion. Men were already greatly excited. In 
no canvass, previous to the war, was there ever manifested so 
much bitter personal ill-will as in that of 1855. INIany men 
came to the speaking on that day armed, expecting there would 
be a difficulty. Johnson knew the feverish excitement which 
prevailed, knew also that the new party was compact, and 
confident in its strength. A timid man would have been cautious 
in his attacks, but he adopted no such policy. Imitating the 
example of Henry A. AVise, he assailed Know-Nothingism with an 
audacity unknown before even to himself. Men were confounded 
at his boldness. He arraigned the party for its signs, its grips, 
and passwords, its oaths and secret conclaves, its midnight 
gatherings, its narrowness, littleness, and proscriptiveness. He 
charged that the members were sworn to tell a lie when they first 
entered the order. He exclaimed with all his bitterness : "Show 
me a Know-Nothing, and I Avill show you a loathsome reptile on 
whose neck every honest man should put his feet." He finally 
charged that they were "no better than John A. Murrell's 
clan of outlaws."* 

*John A. Murrell had been the leader of a band of murderers and rob- 
bers twenty or thirty years before that time, operating In the western 
part of this State and in Mississippi and Arkansas, and had been sent to 
the penitentiary for bis many offenses. His trial and the history of his 
life were the great sensations of that day. lie is still regarded as a sort 
of Robin Hood. 


Under his terrible denunciations the audience had become pale 
with rage and as still as death, waiting to see what next would 
happen. At these last words, many voices burst out: "It's a 
lie, it's a lie." Instantly the cocking of pistols was heard on 
every side, followed by ominous silence. Men ceased to breathe. 
Their hearts stopped beating. In this terrible suspense all be- 
came motionless. Johnson stood for a short time unmoved, gaz- 
ing around on the fearful scene he had evoked, and then deliber- 
ately resumed his speech. All danger was now gone. At the 
critical moment the slightest belligerent demonstration the 
movement of a finger even would have produced a scene of 
blood and death. Brave and determined men were there. 
Fortunately no one was over hasty. All felt the danger, and its 
very imminence averted the calamity. 

After Johnson had finished his tirade against the Know- 
Nothings, Gentry arose to reply. It was expected that a new 
scene of excitement would follow. The friends of Gentry ex- 
pected him to denounce in direct terms the charges and insinua- 
tions of Johnson as falsehoods. Yet these men should have 
known better. He did no such thing. In a lofty manner he 
proceeded to defend the principles of the American Party, and 
to repel the base charges brought against it. His speech was 
dignified, eloquent, abounding in withering sarcasm, but in not 
a single word or sentence did he forget his own high sense of 
self-respect. It was observed that he had not avowed himself 
a member of the new party, and his defense of it was not as 
earnest as had been expected. 

The result, therefore, of this first debate was unfavorable to 
Gentry. His friends went away disappointed and discouraged. 
They never quite recovered from this feeling. It was believed 
at the time that if he had boldly identified himself with the 
new order, had repelled in the strongest language and with an 
indignant spirit the venomous attacks of Johnson, he would 
have been triumphantly elected. With Johnson's fearful ar- 
raignment of the secret order and oath-bound party, and the 
apparently half-hearted defense made of it by Gentry, its friends 
became despondent and timid all over the State. On the other 
hand, Johnson's daring assaults had filled his friends wnth the 
highest courage and enthusiasm. Nor was this all. At the first 
appearance of the order, many Democrats had hastened to join 
it, some because they approved of its principles, and some be- 


cause they thought it would become the highway to power. But 
when Andrew Johnson began thundering his terrible denuncia- 
tions against it, calling on all honest men to come out of the 
midnight dens of this wicked party, Democrats all over the State 
commenced hurriedly tumbling out of the order, so great was 
their haste to escape odium. 

Gentry's course was never fully understood by his party. 
It is to me no mystery. He was no coward, either physically 
or morally. He could dare as much as any man. Indeed, in 
the courage and manly frankness with which he gave utterance 
to his opinions, he was more like Mr. Clay than an}' public man 
of his time. His thoughts were as open as day. His conduct 
on the stump with Johnson to some appeared cowardly, but it 
was far from it. He suffered his opponent to abuse his party 
in the most insulting manner. This had the appearance and 
certainly the effect of bullying on Johnson's part. Gentry's 
friends went away from every discussion, notwithstanding his 
splendid speeches, with a feeling of defeat in their hearts. His 
conduct was the result of his civility and sense of honor, and 
no earthly consideration could have induced him to depart from 
the principles of honorable debate. 

An incident at Clinton, East Tennessee, will illustrate. When 
the candidates reached that place, having been over the middle 
and the western parts of the State, an informal meeting of 
Gentry's friends was held at which it was determined to send 
a committee to him, to urge on him a more vigorous and personal 
canvass. This committee was composed of two of his warmest 
friends, William G. Brownlow and myself. They represented 
to him that the people of East Tennessee were accustomed to hot 
discussions, that they expected them, and that it would be well 
to lay aside his dignity, and to treat Johnson as he was in the 
daily habit of being treated by him. 

Mr. Gentry straightened himself up in his loftiest attitude, as- 
suming that majestic air and dignity natural to him and stopped 
the committee saying: "I know what you mean, gentlemen; you 
want me to commence by denouncing Johnson as a scoundrel, 
and growing stronger in denunciation until I reach the grand 
climax. Let me say that I think I know how to act as a gentle- 
man, and what the rules of honorable debate among gentlemen 
require. I cannot degrade my manhood, even if my competitor 
does do so ; no, not even to secure my election. If you wish 


ine to get down to the level of my competitor, I beg you to 
hunt another to take my place, and let me retire at least with 
my own self-respect and with unsullied honor." 

Here that part of the conference came suddenly to an end. 

The discussion at Clinton passed off without any unusual 
incident. Johnson continued to arraign the American party with 
bitterness and terrible power. Gentry, on the other hand, de- 
fended the party against these assaults with more spirit than he 
had done at :Murfreesboro. His speech was a splendid speci- 
men of argument and genuine eloquence. It required all his 
self-control, when answering the points of his competitor, to 
suppress his swelling indignation. More than once he seemed 
on the point of throwing away his courtesy and hurling the 
thunderbolts of his wrath on Johnson's head. As it was, within 
the limits of honorable debate, his speech bristled with keen 
sarcasm, biting wit, and scarcely concealed contempt. Yet, so 
artful and powerful had Johnson's speech been, that the friends 
of Gentry were far from being jubilant, rather the contrary. 

The next day the debate at Jacksboro was more spirited. 
Johnson introduced into the discussion his celebrated "white 
basis" proposition, offered in the Legislature in 1842. This was 
that "the basis to be observed in laying off the State into Con- 
gressional Districts shall" (should) "be the voting population, 
without regard to the three-fifths of the negro population." Thus 
he proposed to disregard the very letter of the Constitution of 
the United States, which he as a member of the Legislature 
had taken an oath to support. His object was to strengthen 
himself as the white man's friend in the mountain counties, 
where nine-tenths of the voters were non-slaveholders. The in- 
troduction of that question was out of place. He was in a 
county and a region where there were few slaves, and he hoped 
to make a few votes by this appeal to the prejudices of the 
ignorant non-slaveholders. He always knew how to introduce 
principles and opinions suited to the locality where he was to 
speak. He had denied, as had his organ and friends, in the 
cotten region of the State, where there were a great many slaves, 
that this "white basis" resolution was an issue in the canvass. 
When he reached this region, he brought it up, as he said it 
"involved a great principle, one which concerned the rights and 
interests of the masses." Gentry's answer to Johnson on this 
question was masterly and withering. 


Johnson and Gentry traversed the counties on the North side 
of the State to the Virginia line, then turned westward along the 
Southern border. When they reached Knoxville Mr. Gentry 
was ill. He and his competitor on this account made an agree- 
ment that the canvass should close so far as speaking was con- 
cerned. As it was near election day, it was thought to be very 
generous on Johnson's part to give up speaking. They agreed 
that Johnson, in his oAvn person, and Gentry, through a friend, 
should explain to the large crowd present the reasons for failing 
to speak at so important a place as Knoxville. I was 
requested by Mr. Gentry to represent him, and to pre- 
sent to the people his deep regret at being unable to 
make any more speeches. This I did in a little speech not ex- 
ceeding three minutes. We supposed Johnson would not much 
exceed my time. This was the spirit of the agreement. In- 
stead, he made almost a regular speech. He spoke from fifteen 
to twenty-five minutes upon matters manifestly covered by his 
agreement. I was indignant, but nothing could be done to stop 
him. Nor was this all, for he went on to the remaining appoint- 
ments in Blount, jNIonroe, and other counties, where he gathered 
his friends around him in public rooms and said in substance: 
"I am not allowed by agreement with my competitor to make 
a speech. If I were allowed to do so, I would say 'So and so,' " 
going over the grounds of discussion betwen him and his com- 
petitor. Thus he talked to the crowd gathered to hear him until 
it was time to take his departure for another county. Each 
day he made many speeches on the issues of the canvass. He 
had gained credit for great magnanimity in giving up his ap- 
pointments. That fact became widely known, while his subse- 
quent, conduct, after he left Knoxville, was only heard of by 
a few. The National Intelligencer came out with a most com- 
plimentary editorial, praising him for generosity toward his 
ailing competitor. Ignorant of what Johnson was doing, Mr. 
Gentry had gone on to his home in ^Middle Tennessee, resting 
on the agreement made. 

This canvass terminated with the re-election of Johnson. 
His majority was 2020. Looking back at it now, the result is 
not surprising. Gentry was known to be a KnoAv-Nothing. At 
first he could not avow the fact, but after the obligation of 
secrecv was removed he did so. In the meantime the secrecy 
feature of the order had done him and his cause incalculable 


harm. There is In the minds of a majority of men a widespread 
and deepseated prejudice against secret, oath-bound organiza- 
tions. It was especially so at that time, and Johnson, by his furi- 
ous and vindictive denunciations intensified this feeling. Every 
Catholic in the State, as well as some foreign-born citizens not 
Catholics, voted against Gentry. These, with those who could 
not support a secret organization, must have amounted to at 
least three thousand votes, possibly to a considerably larger 

I doubt whether Meredith P. Gentry ever sympathized with 
the American Party. His was one of those big, open, generous 
natures that had no love for narrowness nor proscription. 


Elected to United States Senate, 1857 In 18G0 the Democratic D(>logates 
from Tennessee to Charleston Instructed to Vote for Johnson for I'rcsi- 
dent December 18, 19, Speech in United States Senate in Opposition 
to Secession Spring of 1861, Canvass with Nelson to Save the State 
Hindman's Proposition to Arrest Johnson at Rodgersville Thwarted by 
John R. Branner, President of Railroad -Made Brigadier (General by 
Mr. Lincoln and Appointed Military Governor of Tennessee on Fall of 
Fort Donelson, February, 1802. 

In 1857, after the expiration of his second term as Gov- 
ernor, Mr. Johnson secured his long-coveted prize a seat in 
the United States Senate. Many of the leaders of his party 
were opposed to his election. But how could they prevent it.'* 
He was the idol of the Democratic masses, on them he securely 
leaned. He trusted them. In return they honored him. On all 
occasions he spoke with contempt of the aristocratic leaders, 
rejoicing at every opportunity of humiliating them. Some- 
times he even denounced certain of them by name. He intimi- 
dated those who did not voluntarily follow him. Of all the men 
in his party in the State, he was the boldest toward his op- 
ponents, as well as intellectually the most dominant and master- 
ful. Isham G. Harris, his equal in courage and nearly so in 
brains, and with very much greater promptitude in acting, had 
not yet stamped his strong character upon the minds of the 
people of the State. In robust strength Johnson stood alone 
in his party. His reign at this time was absolute. 

Each new success of Johnson was a surprise to all who 
knew him, a bitter disappointment to his enemies in his own 
party. Men were slow to give him credit for the ability which 
all now must admit he possessed. They could not realize that 
the poor tailor of a few years before, living in an obscure 
village, had, unaided by wealth or kindred, not only triumphed 
over the most brilliant men in the Whig party, but had also 
made the proud and high-born leaders of the Democratic party 
bow their unwilling necks, on which he planted his imperial feet 
in his tireless effort for higher power. At each ascending 
step he grew more and more haughty. In battle he asked for 



no quarter ; in victory he gave none. At each new elevation he 
threw down on his enemies haughty looks of defiance and scorn, 
and triumphantly shook his fresh laurels in their faces. All 
that his enemies whom he had overthro\\Ti in his own party 
could do, was to cry: "Tailor!" "Plebeian!" "Lowborn!" 
and other like endearing epithets.* 

But these successes were no surprise to Johnson himself. 
They were just what he had planned, worked for, and dreamed 
of, what he thought he deserved. He was not excessively vain 
and inflated, but he felt within himself great powers, which gave 
him confidence and a steady equipoise. With calm repose and 
undaunted courage he felt equal to any enterprise, however 
perilous, or to any position, however exalted. He never feared 

Li 1860 the Democratic Party of Tennessee, in Convention 
assembled, recommended to the national Democratic party the 
name of Mr. Johnson for the Presidency. The delegates chosen 
to the Charleston Convention (April 23, 1860) were instructed 
to vote for him. When INIr. Breckinridge was nominated for 
this position at Baltimore by the ultra-Southern wing of the 
party, Johnson after much hesitation and long incubation, gave 
him his support. This may seem surprising to some, but it 
should not seem so. Johnson was an extreme Democrat. All 
his fortunes and hopes were tied up with that party. Nine- 
tenths of his friends in Tennessee also supported Breckinridge. 
He had to keep in line with them, for in three years his term 
in the Senate would expire. Of course, he wished a re-election. 
But with all his shrewdness he could not foresee the sudden- 
ness and the violence of the storm that was about to burst upon 
the country. No one could anticipate the fearful upturning 
and uprooting of the very foundations of political parties. 
Soon after the election Johnson awoke to find, with astonish- 
ment, everything drifting away from the old landmarks. It was 
too late to follow in the direction of secession if he had been 
inclined to do so. Other men, even more daring, had taken 
the lead. In revolutions he who is the quickest to act gets 

*Tbe next day after the election in 1872, in which he, Maynard. and 
General Frank Cheatham, a gallant Confederate officer, were candidates 
for Congress for the State at large, Mr. Maynard being elected, he (John- 
son) said with clenched teeth, in a bitter, sibilant voice and with a 
dreadful oath, he had accomplished by his race all he expected he had 
"reduced the rebel brigadiers to the ranks." 


the lead, the undecided being left behind, and Johnson belonged 
to the latter class. Besides, he was no favorite of the revolu- 
tionists. They questioned his faithfulness to the institutions 
of the South. He had offered his "white basis" resolution in 
the Legislature, had defended it in his canvass with Gentry 
when he reached the white population of East Tennessee. He 
was not slow to see these things. 

Johnson was never a disunionist. He hated the Southern 
leaders ; at least there was no sympathy between him and them. 
They looked down on him. When he supported Breckinridge 
for the presidency, he did so because he was supporting a Dem- 
ocrat with whose views his own more nearly coincided than with 
those of either of the other candidates.* As a party man he 
should have supported Breckinridge. I believe it may be said 
that this support was entirely independent of the question of 
secession. It was suspicious at the time, but in view of his 
subsequent heroic and unparalleled defense of the Union it 
proved nothing. His own fortunes were bound up with those 
of the Democratic party. So far as his ascendency in Ten- 
nessee was concerned, it could do him no good for Mr. Bell 
and his Union followers to succeed in the State. He could gain 
nothing at their hands. But later on, when Mr. Bell had 
carried the State, and he saw his own party tending toward 
secession, and realized that he had probably lost control of it, 
he naturally looked around for new alliances. 

With keen sagacity he believed the government would tri- 
umph if a conflict of arms should be madly precipitated. In 
calculating changes he saw that in that event those involved 
in secession would be ruined. If he cast his fortunes with the 
Union, he trusted in his popularity to remain supreme in Ten- 
nessee. In the North, after his noble stand, he would become 
a popular idol. So, in six weeks, after making violent Breckin- 
ridge speeches, he became the foremost champion of the North. 
No one was so full of zeal, nor burned with such intense de- 
votion to the Union. 

In the early part of November, 1860, Mr. Johnson left his 
home in Greeneville for Washington, to take his seat in the 
Senate. If he informed anyone before his departure of his 
change of views in reference to party allegiance, I have never 

Bell and Lincoln. 


heard of the fact. Perhaps his mind had not yet arrived 
at a decision, for he was proverbially slow in forming, 
or at least in announcing, opinions on new questions. He 
knew at the time he cast his vote for Breckenridge the de- 
termination of the Southern leaders in a part of the cotton 
States to attempt to withdraw their States from the Union, in 
the event of the election of a sectional president, for the pur- 
pose of these men had been openly proclaimed all over these 
States. William L. Yancey, the boldest and perhaps the most 
brilliant of these leaders, had been advocating secession for 
years. As far back as 1856 the Hon. Preston S. Brooks of 
South Carolina, at a public dinner given in his honor, by the 
people of that State, proclaimed that "the Constitution of 
the United States should be torn to fragments, and a Southern 
Constitution formed in which every State should be a slave 
State." It was said ten thousand persons were present at the 
time and approved this address. Senator Butler and Senator 
Toombs were both present, and made speeches endorsing the 
declaration of Mr. Brooks. 

The intention to dissolve the Union was not openly pro- 
claimed in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland, and 
perhaps not in North Carolina, but all intelligent men knew 
the fact notwithstanding. Of all the Southern States, possi- 
bly excepting Maryland and Missouri, Tennessee seemed to a 
reflecting mind the least likely to become false to the national 
Government. Jackson, though dead, was still the inspiration 
and the idol of the Democratic party. His intense love and 
warm devotion to the Union filled the hearts of his disciples 
with a like devotion. His many remarkable sayings in its be- 
half were treasured up in their memories as sacred words. 
The idolized leader of the Whig party in Tennessee had been 
Henry Clay, and his burning words of love for the Union 
glowed in every Whig heart. Thus there was in both parties 
in Tennessee an inherited sentiment of loyalty to the Union 
almost as intense as the love for the religion of their fathers. 
So strong was this sentiment that to propose to dissolve it 
was deemed almost sacrilegious. Prior to 1860 any public 
man in the State bold enough to propose a dissolution of the 
Government would have been consigned to a position of infamy 
and execration. The canvass of that year, and the triumph 
of a sectional party, wrought to some extent a change in pub- 


lie sentiment, but it was far from being a revolution. In 
November, 1860, the only prominent man in the State having 
much influence in favor of a dissolution was Isham G. Harris, 
then Governor. When therefore, Johnson made his celebrated 
speech on the 18th and 19th of December, 1860, in opposi- 
tion to secession, he had abundant reason for believing he had 
his State behind him. No doubt he confidently trusted in his 
power and ability to guide it in its course. 

Mr, Johnson's speech on that occasion produced on the 
public mind a profound impression. It electrified the North ; 
it startled and stunned the South. In one section it was hailed 
with unbounded joy; in the other it was received with bitter 
curses and execrations. Ex-Senator Thomas L. Clingman, of 
North Carolina, in his "Recollections," says no speech ever 
made produced such an effect. That is probably true. No 
speaker ever had a greater opportunity. And yet, judged by 
the higher standards, it was not a great speech. Its wonderful 
effect was due to its earnestness, its boldness, and its unex- 
pectedness. No one, either North or South, so far as I know, 
anticipated such a speech. No one expected Mr. John- 
son to denounce with bitter and defiant tones his six weeks' 
erstwhile associates. It was therefore a startling surprise. 
Already the first trembling of the throes of civil war was felt. 
While ]\Ir. Johnson was still speaking. South Carolina was 
rudel}'^ severing the bonds of Union. Four or five other States 
were preparing to follow her example. Civil war was seen in 
the near distance. The North was petrified with amazement, 
if not with fear. No one could forecast the future nor see the 
end, A whole nation stood breathless in expectancy. Amid 
such conditions, Mr. Johnson arose in the Senate. The occa- 
sion was profoundh^ impressive. The opportunity was the 
greatest in history greater than that of Hampden and Pym in 
the British Parliament, greater than that of Mirabeau in the 
Constituent Assembly of France, greater than that of Patrick 
Henry in the House of Burgesses in Virginia, greater than that 
of Mr. Webster when he made his wonderful speech the great- 
est of his life and perhaps the greatest of his age in the Senate 
in reply to Mr. Hajaie. Mr. Webster could see only the 
beneficence of the Union and the glory of its flag, but he could 
not see except in prophetic vision the destruction of the one and 
the Stars disappearing from the other. But even while Mr. 


Johnson spoke he could feel the earth rocked under his very 
feet by the storm of dissolution. A nation of forty millions 
hung in the balance vibrating between union and dissolution, 
between hope and fear. 

This speech, as an argument, as a warning, an inspiration, 
was a striking one. It flashed as a powerful light on the dark- 
ness and gloom of the hour. It was the first message of cour- 
age to the almost despairing North. No other Union man, North 
or South in Congress, had the boldness at that time to make 
such a speech. 

As the good it accomplished for the country was immense 
incalculable it would be ungracious to search too closely for 
the motives that inspired it. It is reasonably certain that Mr. 
Johnson felt confident Tennessee would not become disloyal. He 
did not believe the common people of the State, with whom lay 
his strength, could be drawn into a scheme to destroy the Gov- 
ernment. But few people believed at that time that such a thing 
could happen. If, however, Tennessee should swing away from 
the Union and join a Southern Confederacy, his chances for 
advancement would be better in the North than in the South. 
His aim was the presidency of his country, whatever that country 
might be. That had been for years his ambition. That very 
year he had been a candidate for that office before the Charleston 
Convention. By remaining true to the Union, and bitterly de- 
nouncing secession, while other Southern Senators proved faith- 
less, he would make himself so conspicuously prominent in the 
North as to be in a direct line to the Presidency. I am far from 
assuming or supposing Mr. Johnson's heart did not concur in 
what he did. I have no evidence to warrant such a conclusion. 
But he was human ; he was a politician. If duty and the con- 
victions of his mind coincided with his aspirations and his chance 
of promotion, there should be no surprise that he chose the 
course that met both conditions. On the whole I am satisfied 
he was animated by patriotic motives. 

After the delivery of the speech, Johnson at once became the 
most popular man in the North, excepting Lincoln. No other 
Senator had dared to make such a speech, so bold, so unequivo- 
cal, so direct in denunciation. No other Union Senator's speech 
could have produced such widespread and intense effect. The 
same speech, in substance, if made by Mr. Seward, or Mr. 
Sumner, elegant, polished, and gilded with beautiful phrases 


and flowing rhetoric, as it would have been, would have fallen 
almost unheeded on the ears of the country. It was the quarter 
from whence it came, the person, the opportune moment chosen 
that surprised and enkindled the country as never before. 

It was perhaps well for the fame of Johnson that he did not 
attempt to repeat this speech during that session of Congress. 
He did, however, make spirited replies on several occasions to 
criticisms, and to taunts aimed at him by the friends of disunion. 
He was their special target during all the weeks of that short 
session. Some of the Southern Senators had already with- 
drawn ; others remained, but they were aggressive and defiant. 
Wigfall of Texas had taunted the friends of the Government 
with the declaration that the Union was no more was dissolved 
dead ; and he added that it was only a question Avhether there 
should be a decent funeral or an Irish wake. 

I take some extracts from a writer descriptive of a remark- 
able occurrence.* 

"The time was the night of March 3, 1861, the very last day 
of the thirty-sixth Congress the eve of the inauguration of 
Lincoln and Hamlin. 

"He [Johnson] was the chief actor in an episode in the Sen- 
ate of the United States, the most remarkable and the most 
intensely dramatic which ever occurred in that famous delibera- 
tive body. It was the only occasion ever known when the spec- 
tators in the galleries of the senate stood upon their seats, swung 
their hats in the air and gave three cheers for a speaker, and 
that, too, in spite of the pounding of the presiding officer, and 
the stern order to clear the galleries and arrest the offenders." 

Johnson had replied to some strictures made by "Old Joe 
Lane," of Oregon, and the latter came upon the floor with a 
long manuscript speech, which he read, and when Johnson 
attempted to answer, he was so continuously interrupted that 
it was apparent the majority did not intend he should have an 
opportunity to reply. Stephen A. Douglas, late candidate for 
the presidency, interfered in the name of fair play, and the Ten- 
nesseean was allowed to proceed. 

Johnson talked of treason and alluded to the touchiness of 
the Southern leaders on that subject. He asked why it was 
not a legitimate subject of discussion on the floor. He read 

"Observer" in the Knoxville Journal and Tribune. 


the definition of the crime as laid down in the Constitution, and 
intimated that the fatliers of the country had not been so 
squeamish about defining it. 

"Show me the man," he said, "who has been engaged in these 
conspiracies, who has fired upon our flag, who has given instruc- 
tions to take our forts and custom houses, our arsenals and 
dockyards, and I will show you a traitor." 

Here Johnson was interrupted by applause, and the presid- 
ing officer threatened to have the galleries cleared. 

"If the individuals are pointed out to me who are engaged 
in nightly conspiracies, in secret conclaves, in issuing orders 
directing the capture of our forts and the taking of our custom 
houses, I will show" who the traitors are ; and doing that, the 
persons pointed out, coming within the purview and scope of 
the Constitution, were I president of the United States I would 
do as Thomas JefiPerson did in 1806 with Aaron Burr. I 
would have them arrested, and if convicted within the scope and 
meaning of the Constitution, by the Eternal God ! I would 
execute them !" 

It is difficult to catch the spirit of the scene. A spectator 
swung his hat and yelled to the presiding officer, "Arrest and 
be damned !" 

Johnson, continuing, alluded to the bullying and truculent 
attitude of his assailants Lane himself had the reputation of 
a fighter, he had gone to Mexico as a common soldier and 
returned a general, and it w'as common taunt of the so-called 
fire-eaters that Northern men would not fight, and of course a 
Southern "mudsill" wuth Northern principles was beneath con- 
tempt and said: 

"These two eyes of mine never looked upon anything in the 
shape of mortal men that this heart feared." 

"Throughout the delivery of the speech the occupants of the 
galleries themselves had tried to restrain their emotions, and 
when it was concluded, there was only a buzzing. After a 
second, jNIr. eTohnson Avaved his hand and said: 'Mr. President, 
I have done.' Then Hon. J. B. Grinel, afterward a member of 
the House from Iowa, stood up in his seat, sw^ung his hat in the 
air, and called for three cheers for Andy Johnson and the 
Union, and then there occurred a scene, the like of which was 
never known in the Senate before nor since." 

On the adjournment of Congress, after some delay, Johnson 


returned to his home in Tennessee, to throw the weight of his 
talents and influence in behalf of the Union in the contest then 
fiercely raging in that State, The attempt made by Governor 
Harris, in February, 1861, to carry the State out of the Union 
had been defeated by a popular majority of 25,000 votes. He 
was now making a second effort. He had called the Legislature 
together to assemble in extra session on the 25th of April, to 
consider for the second time the question of the secession of the 

April 12, 1861, there flashed along the wires the news that the 
Confederate batteries in Charleston had opened fire on Fort 
Sumter. A few hours later it was heralded over the world that 
the fort had fallen, that the national flag lay low in the dust. 
The whole country was frenzied with excitement. Never in our 
history had there been such universal outburst of feeling and 
passion as now prevailed. Almost in an hour sixty thousand 
men, in an unreasoning madness and infatuation, deserted the 
Union ranks in Tennessee, and went over to the new Confederacy. 
Nearly every Union leader in ^Middle and West Tennessee had 
either preceded or followed the masses in their sudden change. 
The cry, "To arms !" was heard all over the land. Soon armed 
squadrons were seen moving to the front. 

In April Johnson entered the canvass with more than his 
usual courag-e and ability in an effort to save the State. At 
first he made speeches by himself. Later he and the Hon. 
Thomas A. R. Nelson, a member of the Lower House, united, 
and filled a long list of joint appointments. This was a happy 
arrangement. No man in East Tennessee commanded the con- 
fidence of the Whigs in so high a degree as Nelson, and no man 
the Democrats to the extent of Johnson. Both were powerful on 
the stump ; both were earnest and determined, and both were 
absolutely fearless. The crowds which attended their meetings 
and followed them from day to day numbered thousands. They 
spoke in nearly every county in East Tennessee, and in some 
counties more than once. ]Mr. Nelson was exact in his state- 
ment of facts, and scrupulously careful, not to suppress or 
distort anything. He was also bold beyond nearly any man 
of his day in denouncing what he believed to be wrong. His 
speeches in this canvass were fair, high-toned, able, argumenta- 
tive, but at the same time scathing against secession. They 
were also full of fire and stirring eloquence. 


Johnson was always at his best before large popular as- 
semblies. In this canvass he was less bitter than ever before. 
The supreme peril of the country and the awful momentous- 
ness of the hour lifted him to broader, more generous views. 
He pleaded for his distracted country with a passionate earnest- 
ness that moved men's hearts as he had never moved them before. 
It is doubtful whether in all the land such impressive and power- 
ful speeches were made for the Union as were made by these 
two men. iMr. Johnson did not go beyond the limits of East 
Tennessee. He gave to me as a reason why he did not go to 
Middle Tennessee that the people there would not allow him to 
speak.* That was probably true. 

The influence exerted by these men on the general result was 
beyond doubt marked. In the previous February election, with 
the same question in substance (but not in form) before the 
people, the majority for the Union was 25,532. In June the 
majority dropped down to 19,141 a falling off of 6391 votes 
notwithstanding their presence. Mr. Johnson from his pecu- 
liar position was able to exert a larger influence than any 
other Union leader. 

The remarkable change wrought in the Democratic party was 
mainly, indeed almost entirely, the work of Andrew Johnson. Of 
the prominent Democratic leaders in East Tennessee, he alone 
stood for the Union. There were a few local leaders of influence 
in their immediate region, but not man}^ who united with him. 
The others all promptly followed the logical teachings of the 
party in the canvass of 1860. The 12,890 Democrats who thus 
came out of the Breckinridge party and followed Johnson over 
to the support of the Union cause Avere composed almost en- 
tirely of the mass of the people. Nothing in the whole history 
of Andrew Johnson shows so strikingly as this canvass the dom- 
inating power he held over the minds of his party in the section 
where he lived. Perhaps no such example of devotion and con- 
fidence can be found in our political annals. j- 

*He urged me to go to Middle Tennessee to make speeches, saying the 
people there would not listen to him, but he thought they would to me. 

fThe vote in Greene County, the home of Johnson, was a remarkable 
illustration of this influence. In the Presidential election Mr. Breckin- 
ridge's plurality over Mr. Bell was 1006 votes, Mr. Douglas only receiving 
35 votes. In the following June the Union majority was 1947, notwith- 
standing several hundred Bell Whigs went over to secession in this 


The transfer of allegiance of a majority of the Democrats 
from the party of their love (a party they had been taught to 
believe was of almost immaculate purity) to a union with the 
Whigs whom they hated, and infinitely worse to a union with 
Freesoilers and Abolitionists, whom they both feared and ab- 
horred, was one of transcendent ascendency. The number thus 
influenced would doubtless have been much larger could Mr. 
Jolmson have been heard in the canvass of January and Febru- 
ary as he was heard four months later. Many, it is true, had 
read his speech in the Senate of the 18th and 19th of December, 
but in few men was the difference so marked as in this case be- 
tween the effect produced by the reading of his speeches, and 
by hearing him deliver them before a popular assembly. It was 
as the difference between reading a piece of music by note, and 
hearing that rendered by a great master. The magnetic voice, 
the action, the earnestness, the fire, the subtle contagion of 
sympathy and enthusiasm passing from speaker to hearer, sway 
assemblies and make the triumphs of oratory. How often are 
we disappointed when reading with cold criticism speeches pro- 
nounced great by those who heard them ! 

While the canvass was in progress Johnson was the object 
of the most violent hatred on the part of the secessionists. His 
name was everywhere received with execration. This was mani- 
fested toward him in a much more intense degree than against 
Nelson and the other Union leaders. He was regarded as a 
traitor to his pai-ty. It was no surprise that the leaders of the 
old Whig party were supporters of the Union cause. That had 
been their creed for thirty years, their rallying cry in 1860. But 
Johnson belonged to an opposite school of politics, whose the- 
ories and teachings ended logically in the right of secession. 
This school had openly inculcated the summer before, in a large 
part of the South, the duty of secession in a contingency which 
had now arisen. There had been no condemnation nor dissent 
from these views, but if newspaper reports were trustworthy, 
he had once or twice uttered sentiments which could only be 
construed as an acquiescence in the policy of the leaders. Now, 
when he denounced these leaders for doing what he must have 
known they contemplated, and which by co-operation he had en- 
couraged them to do, he invoked on himself a depth and in- 
tensity of hate inconceivable in its ferocity. On the railroads 
he was in deadly peril of life. From three or four points 


he was warned not to attend his appointments, not to attempt 
to speak. He refrained from going to INIiddle Tennessee, be- 
cause of the ill-feeling there against him. Yet for six weeks, 
heedless of the dangers which daily encompassed him, he bravely 
went forward in the mission of helping to save the Union. It 
can be safely affirmed that at no time, either in peace or in war, 
has any man displayed cooler or higher courage than he during 
the dark days of April, May, and June, 1861. At no time in 
his life did he seem so earnest, so brave, so fair, so persuasive, 
so elevated, and so powerful as when pleading for the Union. 

Two or three weeks before the close of this canvass, Thomas 
C. Hindman of Arkansas, who was born in Knox County, fif- 
teen miles from Knoxville, near the birthplace of Admiral Far- 
ragut, was in the above-named city, with a regiment of soldiers, 
on his way to Virginia. He was the guest of the Hon. Landon 
C. Haynes, Senator-elect to the Confederate Congress. During 
the evening nearly all the leading secessionists of the city called 
on him. Naturally Johnson became the subject of conversation. 
Hindman thought it a great outrage that Johnson should be 
allowed to go over the country making Union speeches, though 
the State had not yet voted in favor of secession. Johnson and 
Nelson were to speak the next day at Rogersville, sixty-five or 
seventy miles East of Knoxville. Hindman proposed to take 
a train and a company of soldiers the next morning and go to 
that place and arrest Johnson and probably Nelson also. All 
those present, excepting two, approved of Hindman's proposi- 
tion. Mr. Haj^nes, while not expressly approving or dissenting, 
said that the arrest of Johnson would not stop the trouble, 
that there were other men of influence besides him who would 
still lead the people if he were silenced. 

At this conference there was present a man who had been a 
personal and political friend of Johnson from boyhood. Though 
a warm friend of Southern independence, he disapproved of his 
arrest. He therefore informed John H. Branner, president of 
the railroad which Hindman must use in order to reach Rogers- 
ville, of the latter's purpose. Branner was also a friend of the 
South, but he feared the Union men would be indignant with 
him for furnishing an extra train to be used in arresting one 
of their favorite leaders, and in revenge would destroy railroad 
property. To avoid a direct refusal to Hindman's demand, he 


i^ent every engine he lind oiif on the road. The next morning 
Hindman appeared and demanded a train. Mr. Branncr was 
bland, polite, wished to acconnnodate General Hindman and help 
the Southern cause by every means within his power, but he was 
very sorry that every engine he had in the world was out on 
duty, and none of them would be in before that evening. He 
regretted so much that General Hindman had not asked for the 
train earlier ! 

It thus came about that no attempt was made to arrest John- 
son. Those who knew the reckless courage of General Hind- 
man can easily conceive that if he had gotten to Rogersville, 
Johnson would have been either arrested or killed. It is morally 
certain that Johnson and Nelson would not have tamely sub- 
mitted to an arrest, surrounded as they were by friends.* 

A few days after the close of the canvass, and the return 
of Johnson to his home in Greeneville, doubtless realizing that 
Tennessee was not a safe place for him after its alliance with 
the Southern Confederacy, he wisely determined to leave for the 
North. Selecting three trusty friends to accompany him beyond 
the State line, he, with his little party, left his home for the 
North, In open daylight, about the IMh of June, by way of 
Cumberland Gap and Cincinnati, traveling overland. The 
distance to Cumberland Gap, which is a common point on the 
lines separating Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, was about 
sixty miles. At Bean Station Johnson struck the public high- 
way used since the day of Daniel Boone, who passed through 
that celebrated Gap on his way to Kentucky in 1760 or 1761. 

At Bean Station James Laffert}', well known at that day as 
a noisy Democratic politician, who had been a militia General 
on the staff of Governor Trousdale, indignant that such a 
traitor as he esteemed Johnson to be, should escape, called on 
the people assembled there to aid him in arresting the fugitive. 
But not a man responded to his call. Johnson quietly passed 
on, crossing Clinch Mountain, reached Cumberland Mountain, 

The facts in reference to the conference at Mr. Ilaynes' house, with 
the names of the persons present, and of the design of General Hindman 
to arrest Johnson and probably Nelson, have been in my possession for 
many years. They were communicated to a friend of his (who communi- 
cated them to me) by the late Thomas J. Powell, of Washington, D. C, 
a cousin of the wife of Senator Haynes. He was present at the confer- 
ence and was then a citizen of Knoxville. 


and passing through Cumberland Gap, came into the State of 
Kentucky in the forenoon of the third day. In Kentucky he was 
in no danger, therefore after passing some distance from the 
State line his friends returned to their homes, while Johnson 
continued on through Kentucky to Cincinnati, and thence to 

This whole trip was in keeping with Johnson's character for 
courage and deliberateness. He started and traveled in the 
open day, except the night of the third day, a part of the 
way along the most public highways in the country. He was in 
no danger from the rural population along his route. His 
danger was that he would be met or overtaken by Confederate 
cavalry and arrested. There were a number of regiments of 
soldiers in East Tennessee at that time, and some companies, if 
not regiments of cavalry. It must have been known by the Con- 
federate authorities in Knoxville that Johnson was on his way 
to Cumberland Gap, for Greeneville was in telegraphic and rail- 
road communication with the former place. It is a matter of 
surprise that he was not intercepted at Bean Station or Taze- 
well, as he might have been, unless it was the policy of the 
Confederate authorities to get him out of the State. 

On the fall of Fort Donelson, February, 1862, and the oc- 
cupation of Nashville by the army of General Buell, Johnson 
was made a Brigadier General by President Lincoln, and ap- 
pointed Military Governor of Tennessee. This office he held 
until he became Vice-President, March 4, 1865, a period of three 
years. The administration of Johnson as Military Governor 
was characterized by vigor, not to say extreme rigor, as will 
appear in the next chapter. 

When Mr. Johnson left his home in Greeneville, Tenn., June, 
1861, he became an exile not to return for nearly eight years. 
Remarkable as was the career of Andrew Johnson, brave and 
unconquerable as he was, sometimes standing out alone in defi- 
ance of the public opinion of his day, yet it would be difficult 
for the most gifted writer to make of him a popular hero, with 
qualities to catch the fancy and kindle the imagination. He 
was so practical, so rugged, so belligerent, so real and unideal, 
that there was nothing in him or about him to influence the 
imagination. And, yet, indeed, in reference to him, truth was 
stranger than fiction. How extraordinary his triumphs of per- 


severance and ambition over poverty and obscurity, over enmities 
and opposition ! What strange vicissitudes of fortune ! How 
marvelous liis destiny! Leaving as an exile in 1861, fleeing 
from home, danger, the wrath of a hostile government, amid 
the din and noise of war, with two governments in existence, 
yet returning to that home eight years afterward, crowned with 
the honor of having been the President of a re-united countr}' ! 


Policy as Military Governor April 12. 18G4, Knoxville-Greeneville Con- 
vention Convened for Third Time Majority Report Aimed at John- 
son "Convention" at Nashville, January, 1865 Noted Oath for Regu- 
lation of Election of Electors McClellan Electors Ask Lincoln to 
Revoke the Oath Lincoln Declined Johnson Takes Oath as Vice- 
President March 4, 1865 Remarkable Utterances Johnson's Change 
of Views After Lincoln's Death Mr. Blaine's Views of President John- 
son's Reconstruction Measures Mr. Seward's Relations with the 

Johnson's power as Military Governor was unlimited. The 
right of pulling down and setting up was exercised by him 
unsparingly. The condition of things then existing in the State 
demanded a brave heart and an iron will. On the fall of Nash- 
ville and Memphis, in the winter and spring of 1862, the dis- 
loyal parts of the State fell under the jurisdiction of the INIili- 
tary Governor. To preserve order and prevent conspiracies 
against the Government of the United States required all the 
alertness and vigor of the now imperial ruler. It has never 
been doubted that his administration was free from weakness. 
The most ultra-Unionists could hardly have desired the exercise 
of more vigor than was at all times manifested by him. He 
imprisoned whomsoever he would. He levied at his will heavy 
assessments of money on the wealthy secessionists of Middle 

The object of these levies was to aid in supporting the 
families of persons who had been influenced to join the secession 
movement by the advice and the example of these leading men. 
INIany of these poor men had gone South with the Confederate 
army, leaving their families destitute. Some had been killed in 
battle or had died of disease. This money was to be used, and 
so far as I ever heard, was used, for the relief of these needy 
persons. There may have been a stronger motive than mere 
sympathy that prompted the collection of this money. Gov- 
ernor Johnson had proclaimed everywhere that treason must be 
made odious, and to this end that the rich, intelligent "con- 
scious rebels" must be punished and stripped of their wealth 
and power. These assessments, imposed under the plea of 


charity for the needy, were the first step in the direction of the 
fulfilhnent of his favorite policy of punishment, disgrace, and 
impoverishment. His mailed hand was laid on gently at first. 
If anj'one refused to pay the sums demanded, the remedy was 
easily found in the fertile brain of a person exercising absolute 
authority, with a military force and willing instruments behind 
him to enforce his orders. Those failing to comply with the 
orders were sent to prison until solitude and reflection gave 
them clearer light. 

On April 12, 1864, the celebrated Knoxville-Grecneville Con- 
vention of 1861, convened for the third time, on the call of its 
President, the Hon. T. A. R. Nelson. This time it met in 
Knoxville. Soon it was found that there was a wide diversity 
of opinion in the Convention, which broke out into an angry 
debate on the first opportunity. Some of this feeling was per- 
sonal, and some of it was due to political differences which had 
sprung up within the last three years. Some of it was refer- 
able to the opposition which had grown up in regard to the 
conduct and policy of Andrew Johnson, Military Governor of 
Tennessee. Very soon these conflicting opinions became 
crystallized into the form of resolutions, which precipitated a 
two or three days' debate. Passion ran exceedingly high. The 
old leaders in the Greeneville Convention, such as Nelson, Baxter, 
Carter, Spears, Heiskell and Fleming, found themselves con- 
fronted by a new set of men who to a large extent belonged 
to the army, and who had imbibed by suffering and persecution, 
feelings quite unlike those of the men who had neither suffered 
nor entered the army. 

Finally, on the fourth day of the Convention, without anj' vote 
on either side on the resolutions which had been offered, on 
motion of Samuel Milligan, that body voted to adjourn sine die. 
And thus ended that famous Convention of 1864, wjiich had done 
so nmch to encourage and inspire the Union men of East Ten- 
nessee with hope and confidence. A very large part of the fight 
in the Convention, on the part of tjie friends of the majority 
report, was aimed at ]\Ir. Johnson. He was finally invited by 
the Convention to attend and address that body, and he did so 
in a very bitter spirit, inthiiging in a personal (i|uarrel \\\\\\ 
Mr. Carter. 

In a day or two after the adjournment of this Convention 
a mass meeting of citizens was held in Knoxville. There was 


a large crowd of people, citizens and soldiers, present. It was 
known that Governor Johnson would address the meeting, and 
people were anxious to hear him. The minds of many people 
were in a state of uncertainty in view of the rapidly changing 
condition of public affairs. This was especially so as to the 
policy of emancipation, inaugurated a few months before that 
time by Mr. Lincoln. There were other matters also relating 
to the policy of the administration of Mr. Lincoln and the 
prosecution of the war, that were creating more or less dis- 
content among persons well recognized as Union men. It was 
well known that such prominent men as Nelson, Baxter and 
Carter condemned the emancipation policy of Mr. Lincoln, and 
held extremely conservative views on all questions concerning the 
future policy of the Government in its treatment of those in 
arms against it. It was therefore most natural that the people 
should have been extremely solicitous to hear the views of Gov- 
ernor Johnson, who was justly regarded as the highest exponent 
in the State of the policy of Mr. Lincoln, in reference to the 
questions which divided the public mind. 

The mass meeting was gotten up on the suggestion and for 
the benefit of Governor Johnson. Of course he was the chief 
speaker. It may be of interest to many persons to know how 
meetings of this kind were generally managed by old politicians. 
The resolutions were dictated by Mr. Johnson himself, and 
written by his private secretary, William A. Browning. They 
were then taken to William G. Brownlow, and he was requested 
to read and offer them as his own. He approved them and was 
willing to offer them as his own, but owing to the partial loss 
of his voice, he could notTead them, and suggested that I should 
be requested to read them. When this was communicated to 
Governor Johnson, he said it was a good suggestion, that the 
gentlemen named were both old-line Whigs, and in that way he 
would secure their influence with that party, which constituted 
a majority of the loyal people. Accordingly he sent a messen- 
ger to me requesting me to read his resolutions, which I agreed 
to do, reserving the right to make an explanation when doing so. 
When the meeting was called to order, I was called on, as if 
I had never heard of them before, to read some resolutions 
which Mr. Brownlow wished to offer. This I did, and then 
explained that I did not agree with the plan suggested for the 
reorganization of our State Government. 


When Mr. Johnson arose to speak, he said, as if he had known 
nothing that was to take place, that he had Hstened with great 
interest to the resolutions offered by his friend, Mr. Browiilow, 
and he took great pleasure in saying they met his hearty ap- 
proval. No doubt the resolution which declared that the meet- 
ing had "full confidence in the integrity and patriotism of An- 
drew Johnson, Military Governor of the State," did meet with 
his heart}' approval and gave him great pleasure ! 

Governor Johnson's speech, which followed, was a very able, 
as well as a very bitter one. Here, he proclaimed as he had 
done before his celebrated creed, that "treason must be made 
odious, and traitors be punished and impoverished." 

One of the duties prescribed in the commission of ]\[r. Johnson- 
was to aid the people in re-establishing a State Government, 
loyal to the Government of the United States. Accordingly on 
January 8, 1865, there was held in Nashville what was styled a 
"Convention" of the loyal people of Tennessee. It was con- 
voked by five men who called themselves the "Executive Com- 
mittee of Tennessee." By whom or by what body of men they 
were appointed an executive committee does not appear. But 
is was at that time a well-known fact that this call for a Con- 
vention was inspired and directed by Andrew Johnson. It was 
a misnomer, however, in the graver sense of the word, to 
designate this meeting as a Convention. It was simply a mass 
meeting. The call said: "If you cannot meet in your counties, 
come upon your own personal responsibility." Every man 
therefore attended who wished to do so. A part of the State was 
still held by the Confederates, and a representation from all 
of it was not possible. 

Notwithstanding the irregular character of this meeting, it 
at once proceeded, under the advice and direction of ]Mr. John- 
son, to the work of revising the Constitution. Its first act was 
the abolition of slavery in the State by an amendment to the 
Constitution. This was done with as much gravity as if it had 
been a regular convention of delegates chosen by the people, 
while in fact not one of the persons present at this meeting, so 
far as I ever heard, had been either elected or appointed by any 

It is freely admitted that at that time there was no constitu- 
tional mode open to the people by which the State could be 
restored to its proper relations with the national Government. 


The secession of the State had broken down and destroyed all 
the modes known to the Constitution for its revision. Any mode 
adopted under the circumstances would have been irregular and 
justifiable only by public necessity Sal us populi, suprema est 
lex. There was no Legislature in existence to call a conven- 
tion or propose amendments, its term having expired. But 
there were two methods of proceeding open to the Governor, 
either one of which would have been better than the plan' 

One was an election of a new Legislature ; the other, the 
election of delegates to a Constitutional Convention. Lender his 
commission, as Military Governor, Mr. Johnson was clothed with 
"authority to exercise such powers as may be [were] necessary 
and proper to enable the loyal people of Tennessee to present 
such a republican form of State Government as will entitle the 
State to the guarantee of the United States therefor." No 
specific method of doing this was pointed out. But it was no 
doubt expected that some mode recognized in the constitutional 
history of the country for organizing States, would be adopted. 
Independent of this authority, either of the modes indicated 
above, while not regular, would have been a dignified and im- 
pressive resumption of the powers of government on the part 
of the people, and would have carried with it at all times very 
much more weight than the plan adopted. The ordinary ma- 
chinery for accomplishing this purpose had been annihilated by 
the secession of the State. The military government then exist- 
ing was merely the creature of war, and could not last. The 
loyal people had a right in some Avay to restore the government 
and resume its functions. But how.'^ Under the clause of the 
Constitution making it the duty of Congress "to guarantee to 
each State a republican form of government" had Congress the 
power to treat them as if in a territorial condition, and by an 
enabling act authorize them to form a new Constitution? Be 
that as it may, this had not been done, and certainly there was 
some mode of reorganizing the State, and the nearest approach 
to regularity was the best. 

The plan adopted to get the State back into "practical re- 
lations" with the general Government, was the most irregular 
that could have been chosen. Yet, when the amendments pro- 
posed by this mass meeting were afterward ratified by a major- 
ity of the qualified voters, taking part in the election, they 


became binding on all the people of the State. If the ^Military 
Governor, instead of calling a mass meeting, had ordered an 
election of delegates to a convention in a regular way, and if the 
body thus selected had proceeded in a dignified and deliberate 
manner to revise the Constitution, certainly the instrument thus 
promulgated would have carried with it very much more weight 
than did the crude and hasty one sent forth by this meeting. 
There had been ample time for doing this. The instrument 
adopted was always a source of discontent to many of the loyal 
people of the State. A number of the persons present, notably 
Judge John C. Gaut, R. R. Butler, and L. C. Houk, protested 
against the action of the convention. The majority of the 
loyal people had no notice nor suspicion that this body of men 
would proceed to revise the Constitution. Many of them were 
indignant at its action. To it may be traced many of the 
errors afterward committed by the Legislature, and much of 
the subsequent discontent of the people. That Mr. Johnson 
was responsible for all this no one could doubt. He had been 
elected Vice-President, and his term as ^Military Governor was 
to end on or before ]March 3d. His ambition was to carry to 
Washington his own State, as a reconstructed member of the 
Union, and present it as a rich jewel to the nation. It would 
give him new prestige and eclat. Hence his sudden haste just 
at the close of his service as Military Governor. At Knoxville, 
in April, 1864, in the resolutions prepared by himself, he had 
declared for a "Constitutional Convention to be chosen by the 
loj^al people of the State." Again, these resolutions spoke 
of the "election of delegates to the Convention," etc. Spring 
and summer and fall passed and no convention was called. Fin- 
ally, in December a meeting was called by five men, as we have 
seen, and not by the Governor, which was to assemble on the 
19th of the month. No notice was given in the call that the 
work of revising the Constitution would be undertaken by that 
body. With his usual procrastination ]Mr. Johnson had allowed 
the period between April and January to pass without any 
action, and now there was not sufficient time before he nmst leave 
for Washington for the accomplishment of this work in a de- 
liberate manner. 

Even Governor Harris, when he sought to carry the State out 
of the Union, observed the forms of law in his first attempt, by 
calling the Legislature together to act on his propositions. He 


did not submit them to a mass meeting of self-appointed dele- 
gates. And why was there this long delay in calling a regular 
convention, as Mr. Johnson had virtually promised to do? 
Was it because he did not want to vacate his office and his power 
before March 3d, when he M'ould step into a higher position? 
As soon as the State should be reorganized and recognized by 
Congress, the office of Military Governor would be at an end. 
In the meantime the people of the State were kept under mili- 
tary rule and one man's power, from September, 1863, when 
General Burnside relieved East Tennessee, until March, 1865, 
with all the courts closed. The work of reorganizing the State 
and of revising the Constitution might have been and should 
have been accomplished in a regular, decent way one year, and 
possibly two, earlier than it was, and the State admitted back 
into the Union. The last of the Confederate armies was driven 
out of Middle and West Tennessee in the summer of 1863, and 
out of the greater part of East Tennessee in September of the 
same year. 

After the so-called convention of January 9, 1865, Governor 
Johnson issued his proclamation ordering elections to be held 
throughout the State, to fill the various offices then vacant. He 
seems to have had great faith in the efficacy of oaths. In this 
proclamation all voters were required to take the following 
oath : 

"I solemnly swear that I will henceforth support the Constitu- 
tion of the United States and defend it against the assaults of 
all its enemies ; that I will hereafter be, and conduct myself as 
a true and faithful citizen of the United States, freely and vol- 
untarily claiming to be subject to all the duties and obligations, 
and entitled to all the rights and privileges of such citizen- 
ship ; that I ardently desire the suppression of the present in- 
surrection and rebellion against the Government of the United 
States, the success of its armies and the defeat of all who oppose 
them ; and that the Constitution of the United States and all 
laws and proclamations made in pursuance thereof may be 
speedily and permanently established and enforced over all the 
people, States, and territories thereof; and further, that I will 
hereafter aid and assist all loyal people in the accomplishment 
of these results." 

Mr. Jefferson Davis, in his book "The Rise and Fall of the 


Confederate Government,"* thus speaks of Mr. Johnson's ad- 
ministration as Military Governor of Tennessee: 

"The administration was conducted according to the will and 
pleasure of the Governor, which was the supreme law. Public 
officers were required to take an oath of allegiance to the United 
States Government, and upon refusal were expelled from office. 
Newspaper offices were closed and the publication suppressed. 
Subsequently the offices were closed out under the provisions of 
the confiscation act. All persons using 'treasonable and 
seditious' language were arrested and required to take the oath 
of allegiance to the Government of the United States, and give 
bonds for the future, or to go into exile. Clergymen upon 
their refusal to take the oath, were confined in the prisons, until 
they could be sent away. School teachers and editors, and 
finally large numbers of private citizens, were arrested and held 
until they took the oath. * * *" 

In his proclamation ordering the election above referred to. 
Governor Johnson says : 

"It is not expected that the enemies of the United States 
will propose to vote, nor is it intended that they be permitted to 
vote, or hold office." 

The most noted oath ever devised by the ^Military Governor 
was the one he required for the regulation of the election of 
electors for President and Vice-President in 1864. It will be 
remembered that his name was on the ticket with Mr. Lincoln 
as the nominee of his party for Vice-President. It will also 
be remembered that the Democratic party, in its convention at 
Chicago, which nominated General George B. McClellan for the 
presidency against Mr. Lincoln, declared in its platform that 
the war for the suppression of the insurrection was "a failure." 
It further declared in "favor of cessation of hostilities, or an 
armistice with the view of treating for peace." The McClellan 
party put out a full electoral ticket in Tennessee, with the 
names of persons who had formerly been highly honored in the 
State. To meet this new phase in politics our ^Military Governor 
was equal to the emergency. He not only required all voters to 
swear they "ardently desired the suppression of the rebellion," 
and "rejoiced over the defeat of the rebel armies," but also that 
they were opposed (quoting the words of the Chicago platform) 

Vol. I, Chap. XXVIL, p. 285. 


to any "cessation of hostilities, or an armistice, with a view to 
treating for peace." 

This proclamation and oath created a great sensation at the 
time. An address, signed by the McClellan electors, was drawn 
up, and sent to Mr. Lincoln, asking him to revoke the oath. 
A delegation, headed by a distinguished soldier and statesman, 
went to Washington to see Mr. Lincoln, but the latter declined 
to interfere. How could anyone vote sincerely believing in 
that platform.'' He was required to take an oath repudiating 
the very platform upon which he and his party stood. 

The public addresses made by Governor Johnson, from time 
to time, during the last few months of his administration as 
Military Governor of Tennessee, are remarkable specimens of 
oratory. Perhaps no prominent public man in this country 
has ever so astonished the world as he did by his public speeches 
from 1864 to 1867. 

But by far the most remarkable utterance ever made by Mr. 
Johnson was his address, made just before taking the oath of of- 
fice as Vice-President, March 4, 1865. I copy the following ac- 
count of this speech from the Knoxville Whig, as it appeared 
in the New York papers in 1865: 

"Mr. Johnson, before taking the oath of office, made a short 
speech, which, as in the case of Mr. Hamlin, was nearly in- 
audible owing to the want of order which prevailed among the 
women in the galleries. 'By the choice of the people,' he said, 
'he had been made presiding officer of this body, and in present- 
ing himself here in obedience to the behests of the Constitution 
of the United States, it would, perhaps, not be out of place to 
remark just here what a striking thing the Constitution was. 
It was the Constitution of the people of the country, and under it 
here to-day, before the American Senate, he felt that he was a 
man and an American citizen. He was a proud illustration of the 
fact that, under the Constitution, a man could rise from the 
ranks to occupy the second place in the gift of the American 
people and of the American Government. Those of us who 
labored our whole lives for the establishment of a free govern- 
ment know how to cherish its great blessings. He would say 
to Senators and others before him to the Supreme Court which 
sits before him that they all get their power from the people 
of this country.' Turning toward Mr. Chase, INIr. Johnson said : 
'And your exaltation and position depend upon the people.' 


Then, turning toward the Cabinet, he said: 'And I will say to 
you, Mr. Secretary Seward, and to you, Mr. Secretary Stanton, 
and to you, Mr. Secretary [to a gentleman near by, sotto voce. 
Who is Secretary of the Navy.'' The person addressed replied in 
a whisper, Mr. Welles] and to you Mr. Secretary Welles, I would 
say you all derive your power from the people.' Mr. Johnson 
then remarked that the great element of vitality in this govern- 
ment was its nearness and proximity to the people. He wanted 
to say to all who heard him, in the face of the American people, 
that all power was derived from the people. He would say, in 
the hearing of the foreign ministers, for he was going to tell the 
truth here to-day, that he was a plebeian, he thanked God for 
it. It was the popular heart of this nation that was beating 
to sustain Cabinet officials and the President of the United 
States. It was a strange occasion that called a plebeian like him 
to tell such things as these, Mr. Johnson adverted to affairs in 
Tennessee and the abolition of slavery there. He thanked God 
Tennessee was a State in the Union and had never been out of 
it. The State Government had been discontinued for a time 
there had been an interregnum, a hiatus but she had never been 
out of the Union. He stood here to-day as her representative. 
On this da}' she would elect a Governor and a Legislature, and 
she would very soon send Senators and members to Congress." 

Not long after the death of Mr. Lincoln, it was observable 
that the views and feelings of Mr. Johnson were undergoing a 
change in reference to those lately in insurrection. At first this 
change was hailed with delight by the great body of loyal people, 
for they had feared he would be too bloodj^ and unrelenting in 
his policy. 

The magnanimous Grant thus speaks of his apprehensions 
as to the future policy of Mr. Johnson after the assassination of 
Mr. Lincoln, and he reflects, in Avhat he says, the feelings and 
opinions of a large majority of the Northern people at that 
time : 

"It would be impossible for me to describe the feeling that 
overcame me at the news of these assassinations [Mr. Lincoln's 
and Mr. Seward's, as reported], more especially the assassina- 
tion of the President. I knew his goodness of heart, his gen- 
erosity, his yielding disposition, his desire to have everybody 
happy, and above all his desire to see all the people of the 
United States enter again upon the full privileges of citizen- 


ship with equality among all. I knew also the feeling that 
Mr. Johnson had expressed in speeches and conversation against 
the Southern people, and I feared that his course toward them 
would be such as to repel, and make them unwilling citizens, 
and if they became such they would remain so for a long while. 
I felt that reconstruction had been set back no telling how 

Again General Grant said: 

"Mr. Johnson's course toward the South did engender bitter- 
ness of feeling. His denunciations of treason and his ever ready 
remark: 'Treason is a crime and must be made odious,' was 
repeated to all those men of the South who came to him to get 
some assurance of safety, so that they might go to work at 
something with the feeling that what they obtained would be 
secured to them. He uttered his denunciations with great 
vehemence, and as they were accompanied with no assurances 
of safety, many Southerners were driven to a point almost 
beyond endurance. * * * 

"The Southerners who read the denunciations of themselves 
and their people [by the President who was supposed to repre- 
sent the feelings of those over whom he presided] must have 
supposed that he uttered the sentiments of the Northern people ; 
whereas, as a matter of fact, but for the assassination of Mr. 
Lincoln, I believe the great majority of the Northern people, 
and the soldiers unanimously, would have been in favor of a 
speedy reconstruction, on terms that would be least humiliating 
to the people who had rebelled against the Government. They 
believed, I have no doubt, as I did, that besides being the 
mildest, it was also the wisest policy." 

But soon they saw with amazement that the man who had been 
the most extreme of all our public men in his demand for punish- 
ment was becoming the most lenient, and making himself the 
champion of those lately in arms. 

Not more remarkable was his change in December, 1860, from 
the extreme wing of Southern agitators to the support of the 
Republican party, than the reversal of feeling and opinion on 
his part in reference to those lately hostile to the Government, 
which occurred not long after he became President. This was 
the more surprising in each case because he was not a vacillating 

Grant's Memoirs, Vol. II, pp. 508-9. 


man. On the contrary, he was noted for the dogged tenacity 
with which he clung to his opinions. He was not only firm, 
but obstinate. But while he was both firm and obstinate he 
was also calculating. He was wise in forecasting coming events. 
It is hard to escape the conclusion that both these changes were 
the result of a deliberate reckoning of chances. He supported 
Breckinridge, not because he cared for slavery, nor was in 
favor of secession, but because in so doing he was in line with 
liis party, whose assistance in Tennessee he would need and must 
have, when the time for his re-election to the Senate should come 
around. When he saw that the leaders of the cotton States 
were going to establish a new government, he thought no doubt 
he could keep Tennessee out of the Southern movement, and 
could thus cement his power more firmly than before. But few 
men in Tennessee believed or dreamed in 1860 that Jackson's 
State and home would ever raise a parricidal hand against the 
Union. The thought was insulting to the memory of its great 
and idolized defender. It would be strange indeed if Mr. John- 
son did not share in this almost universal belief. He expected 
to be able to crush any effort in that direction. For a number 
of years previously he had been supreme in the councils of his 
party in the State. He made and unmade public men at his 
will. jj 

But if he failed to hold Tennessee in the national column, his 
chances for advancement, from his point of view, would be better 
in the North than in the South. He knew that he had always been 
suspected and to some extent despised by the extreme Southern 
leaders. In birth, education, and social position, he was never 
regarded by them as their equal, and he felt it keenly. In a new 
confederacy he knew, as well as they, there would be no honors 
for him. He had never been an ultra-slavery propagandist. Mr. 
Johnson was too shrewd and sagacious not to see the immense 
probability of the triumph of the Government in the approach- 
ing conflict. With his boundless ambition, it was natural for 
him to count the effect of such a struggle upon his own fortunes. 
Patriotism united with interest and judgment in finally fixing 
his position. His chances for political advancement, therefore, 
were better in the North than in the South, especially if he 
could hold and carry Tennessee with him. With his own State 
in his hands, preserved from secession with his might and power, 
he would stand before the North as the greatest Southern 


champion of the Union. He would be next in esteem to Mr. 
Lincoln. Then the presidency' ! Why not succeed Mr. Lincoln ? 
Who could tell what might happen? This bright vision was an 
enchanting one. And how m3'steriously and with what mars'el- 
ous exactness this most improbable of things came to pass ! 

And the other change, from the most malignant hatred, to the 
tenderest love for those lately in arms, how came it about? 
Over and over again ]\Ir. Johnson had proclaimed in his ad- 
dresses in Tennessee, while Military Governor, that "treason 
must be made odious and rebels be punished and impoverished." 
He said this in Knoxville, as we have seen, in April, 1864. In 
Nashville he had prominent leaders arrested and thrown into 
prison because they were disloyal. He levied heavy contribu- 
tions on their property. He went to AVashington breathing out 
threats against them. In learning of the surrender of General 
Lee, he earnestly protested to ]Mr. Lincoln against the Indulgent 
terms which General Grant had accorded the vanquished army. 
He believed that the whole army should have been held as 
prisoners of war, and General Lee kept in confinement. He 
insisted that Lee should be tried for treason, and but for the 
decided protest of General Grant, he would have been arrested 
and put up on trial. 

A few days after Mr. Johnson became President, he said in 
an address : "The people must understand that treason is the 
blackest of crimes and will surely be punished. * * * Let 
it be engraven on every mind that treason is a crime and shall 
suffer its penalty." On one occasion, he exclaimed: "The halter 
for intelligent, influential traitors !" Before he became Presi- 
dent, he declared that "traitors should be arrested, tried, con- 
victed, and hanged." Even blunt, honest, old Ben Wade, who 
was regarded as one of the bitterest men in the North, was 
startled at the vindictive spirit displayed by Mr. Johnson 
toward the secessionists. 

And yet, in a few brief weeks, Mr. Johnson issued his procla- 
mation of Amnesty and Pardon, granting a pardon to all who 
had been in the secession movement, upon the simple condition 
of taking a prescribed oath, certain classes being excepted from 
the benefits of the proclamation. I do not say that this was 
wrong, but that it was wise and just, for pardon and amnesty 
had to come sooner or later, if we were to become again a 
reunited people. 


I hesitate to affirm positively that Mr. Johnson dehberately 
betrayed the North. When he succeeded to the Presidency he 
assumed grave and high duties toward the whole country. He 
was lifted up into a higher, a broader field, not only of patriot- 
ism, but of feeling also. His horizon was greatly enlarged. 
He became, as it were, the father of the people of all sections. 
The bitter partisan was, or should have been, merged in the 
noble patriot. The highest good of all should have been, and 
possibly was, at first, his aim. The desire of leaving a good 
name behind, of securing the love of his countrymen as a just 
ruler, would naturally prompt a magnanimous man to a course 
far above that of the mere designing politician. Possibly these 
were in part the reasons which at first influenced Mr. Johnson. 
If so, they were noble and honorable. But this revolution of 
feeling was so sudden and remarkable that men wondered at it, 
as well they might. ]Many began to criticise it ; some openly and 
severely to condemn it. His motives were questioned. He, in 
turn, became enraged at this opposition, and turned upon his 
critics with bitter denunciations. 

It is possible that another motive may have influenced ]Mr. 
Johnson quite as much as that suggested. ]Mr. Blaine says that 
the reconstruction measures of ]\Ir. Johnson originated in the 
mind of Mr. Seward, and that they were on his part intended 
as measures of love and reconciliation. That may be, and doubt- 
less is, true. But it seemed strange that Mr. Johnson, one of 
the least loving of men, should so suddenly become an apostle 
of love. Of all his qualities this was supposed to be the least 
prominent. Other feelings than that of love were known usually 
to dominate him. 

No sooner had the amnesty proclamation been published, than 
applications for special pardons began to come in to the Presi- 
dent. Immediately he commenced pardoning the same classes 
which he had excluded from the benefit of the general amnesty. 
All were restored upon precisely the same terms. Was this 
done to bind to him the leading men of the South by the 
strongest tie known to honorable men that of gratitude a 
class whose crimes were too dark, as he pretended, to be em- 
braced in the general amnesty? He had distinguished the 
leaders by excluding them from the general amnesty, and a 
second time distinguished them by special pardons, thus doubly 
separating them from the common people. 


Mr. Seward may have flattered himself that he had obtained 
his chief's approval of his plan of love and reconciliation for 
the Southern States ; but Mr. Johnson, if true to the history 
of his past life, looked away beyond the things, to their effect 
on his own political fortunes. Doubtless he was willing for 
Mr. Seward to indulge in such pleasing fancies. As for himself, 
he was a practical statesman, and accustomed to consider alone 
those things which tended to strengthen and consolidate his 
own power. He was subtle in policy and far reaching in fore- 
thought. Schemes of philanthropy could not fascinate his cool 
head. It was electoral votes he desired. These the Southern 
States would have, and they must be secured. At the same 
time, it was a pleasant reflection to him, no doubt, that by a 
humane policy he might also win the good opinion and respect 
of a class of persons among whom he was born and had lived, 
and who had always looked down upon him. 

A magnanimous mind, touched bv the misfortunes of a brave 
people, whose misguided judgment and ambition had led them 
into an act of supreme folly, might have been influenced by 
sympathy alone to overlook their acts in their day of extreme 
desolation, and restore them to full political brotherhood as 
citizens. But Johnson had never been distinguished for mag- 
nanimity nor mercy. But what he would not do from mag- 
nanimity nor mercy, he would do from self-interest. 

I have elsewhere said Johnson was bitter and unforgiving, 
but that he was also calculating. A presidential election was 
ahead, no matter if it was three years off. What more natural 
than that the Southern people should vote for the man who had 
broken the shackles of their bondage and restored them to 

By means of his immense patronage he might be able to 
detach from the Republican party in the North enough votes, 
when united with the Democratic votes, to carry the old Demo- 
cratic States. Thus he would be elected President by the people. 
What matter if Sumner, Wade, Stevens, and biddings did howl 
and rage, provided the people were for himP'JHe could hardly 
hope to keep on good terms with the strong, proud, arrogant 
radical leaders. They would not yield a particle, neither would 
he. Since his unfortunate appearance and address at his in- 
auguration, they, as well as many others in the North, were 


already alienated to some extent, and he could not depend on 
them to support him. He must, therefore, look elsewhere. 

It was evidently the expectation of Mr. Johnson, in his 
sudden change of position, to draw away a large following from 
the Republican party, and to divide it. He counted on the 
powerful influence of Mr. Seward with the party. He also 
counted on the influence of Seward's old political partner, 
Thurlow Weed. Now that the Union was saved, many of the 
War Democrats, perhaps nearly all, who had attached them- 
selves to the Republican party, to save the Government, would 
come back to the Democratic fold, from natural instinct. With 
a division in the Republican party, the return of many or all of 
the War Democrats, and the support of the disloyal element 
in the North, the prospect looked bright for carrying many 
of the Northern States for Mr. Johnson in the next presidential 
election. Unquestionably the Presidency was his object. With 
the aid of the Southern States, which would be readmitted into 
the Union under his policy, and which would support him from 
motives of gratitude, combined with those he would carry in the 
North, the way to his election would be clear. Perhaps in the 
beginning he did not mean to go as far as he finally went ; per- 
haps he did not contemplate an irrevocable separation from the 
Republican party, and certainly he did not foresee the almost 
united opposition of the party to his policy. But opposition, 
as it always had, drove him forward in a headlong course of 
fury and desperation until he lost all sense of consistency. 

Not less remarkable was the madness of the Southern people, 
guided by his infatuated advice. They could have been, and 
would have been, almost certainly, restored to all their rights, 
w^ith a few exceptions, in the year 1866, on taking a simple 
oath, if they had adopted the fourteenth Amendment to the 
Constitution. But they indignantly rejected it. Congress was 
then driven, most reluctantly and contrary to its first purpose, 
to enter upon and adopt the series of harsh measures as means 
of national repose and future security, known as the Recon- 
struction Acts, which, unforeseen by Congress, resulted so dis- 
astrously to the people of the South. Under negro, and carpet- 
bag rule, grievous wrongs were suff'ered by the South, which 
were attributed to the hate of the Republican party, when, in 
fact, they were the result of the folly of their adviser, Andrew 
Johnson, and of their own lack of knowledge. 


No such changes as Mr. Johnson's, so radical and thorough, 
from a state of intense implacableness to one of effusive con- 
sideration, can be found recorded in history. Love and for- 
giveness were not qualities of his heart. Some other powerful 
motive must be found sufficient to neutralize his recent terrible 
hatred of the Southern leaders, to effect this revolution in feel- 
ing. This was ambition, the ambition to triumph over all op- 
position, to put his feet on the necks of his enemies, to be 
elected President by the vote of the people. This overrode, 
and, at times, quieted all other passions, even hate and revenge. 


Bitter Quarrel Between President aiul Congress Impeadnnent of .Tolin- 
son Failure of Soutliern States to Ratify "Fourteentli Amenrlnient" 
Contest Between Mr. Jolnison and Republican Party Attitude of 
Prominent Republicans Toward Negro Suffrage Reconstruction 
Negro Rule Fifteenth Amendment Civil Rights Bill Johnson's Op- 
position to Fourteenth Amendment. 

Soox after the issuance of the amnesty proclamation there 
sprang up an angry quarrel between ]Mr. Johnson and Con- 
gress. The breach between them each day became wider. As 
the quarrel grew in intensity, Johnson drifted farther and 
farther away from the Republican party. Finally he became 
completely identified in sympathy, as well as in principle, with 
those lately hostile to the Government. It was hardly to be 
expected that the determined men who were leaders of the 
Republican party, in Congress, flushed with their recent victory 
in the State elections, and sustained by nearly three-fourths of 
a majort}' in both branches of Congress, would quietly submit 
to the domineering will of the President. Johnson, on the 
other hand, with a supreme confidence in his own power, went 
forward in the policy which he had proposed, not shrinking 
from this deadly contest. Congress with unwavering firmness, 
swiftly passed measure after measure designed for the security 
and protection of the National Union. Johnson, again and 
again, resorted to his constitutional right of vetoing these 
measures. Scarcely were his veto messages read in Congress 
before the measures were triumphantly passed by Constitutional 
majorities over his vetoes. The President became more and 
more favorable to the late enemies of the Government. He 
encouraged them in every conceivable way by words and by 
speeches to persist in their course. 

This embittered quarrel between the President and Con- 
gress went on for about two years, until at last the House of 
Representatives, driven to desperation by the repeated acts of 
the President intended to defeat the nation's will, preferred 
articles of impeachment against him. Never before in the 
history of our Government had there been an attempt to im- 



peach a President. After a protracted trial before the Senate, 
sitting as the highest judicial body in the land, Mr. Johnson 
only escaped conviction by the narrow margin of one vote. 

The strength of the impeachment of Johnson rested upon 
the charge that he had violated the Tenure of Office Act, by an 
attempt to remove Mr. Stanton from the office of the Secretary- 
ship of War. Stanton had been appointed to that office by 
Mr. Lincoln, and held over under Johnson without reappoint- 
ment. A quarrel had arisen between these two functionaries 
as to the plan to be pursued in reconstructing the late seced- 
ing States, Stanton taking sides with Congress. Johnson wished 
to get rid of him, because he was an obstruction in the way of 
the execution of his plans, hence the attempt to remove him. 

Whatever may be thought of the conduct of Mr. Johnson 
prior to his trial, it is the better judgment of the world 
to-day that the impeachment proceeding was an unfortunate 
mistake. As a precedent, the conviction of a President of the 
United States, without the clearest proof of the commission 
of high crimes and misdemeanors, might prove to be at some 
future time most mischievous; besides, it was never clear that 
Mr. Johnson was guilty of an impeachable crime. As remarked 
recently by an eminent Republican lawyer:* "The executive 
office was on trial" in this impeachment, and it was fortunate 
for the country that Mr. Johnson was acquitted. Mr. Blaine 
says, in regard to his trial : "No impartial reader can examine 
the record of the pleadings and arguments of the managers who 
appeared on behalf of the House, without feeling that the Presi- 
dent was impeached for one series of misdemeanors and tried 
for anotlier series." 

I am not criticising Mr. Jolmson for his plan of recon- 
structing the late secession States, nor for his sympathy with 
the Southern people. His plan may have been the best that 
could have been devised. I believe firmly that his policy would 
have proved such if the Southern people had accepted it in a 
fraternal spirit, and at tlie same time had ratified the Four- 
teenth Amendment to the Constitution. If these two things 
had been done cheerfully and in good faith, there can scarcely 
exist a doubt that in twenty months after the surrender of 
General Lee, the Southern States would all have been restored 
to their old places in the Union. 

*Joseph H. Choate. 


Of course, the result would have been that the control of 
the late secession States would at once have passed into tlic 
hands of those lately in arms against the Government. 'J'hat 
mattered not, for such happened in the end anyway, and was 
right, with proper guarantees and conditions and was inevitable 
sooner or later under any plan of reconstruction. All can 
now see that it was best that it should happen quickly. The 
colored people have finally fallen under the political power of 
the whites in every insurrectionary State, and they so remain, 
notwithstanding the Fifteenth Amendment and the Civil Riglits 
Bill. That, too, was inevitable. Ignorant colored men, however 
superior in numbers, are no match for the intelligent, masterful 
wliitc race. If the whites of these States had retained the control 
of their own internal affairs, after the close of the war, tlie con- 
dition of the colored people would have been made at least as 
tolerable as it became after the return of the whites to power, 
and almost certainly much more so. The whites were, at that 
time, more kindly disposed towards their late slaves than they 
became later after they witnessed the corrupt, and sometimes 
insolent, rule of the latter, while they, and their adventurous 
associates, the carpet-baggers, were in the ascendency. The 
slave owners felt no resentment toward their late slaves until 
they saw the latter exalted over themselves. But their indig- 
nation was naturally aroused when they beheld those who were 
lately obedient to their every command, and whom they still 
regarded as their rightful property, and knew to be vastly 
their inferiors, exercising higli rights denied to themselves, and 
holding honorable offices from which they were debarred. In 
addition to this, when they saw their late slaves used as the blind 
instruments of corrupt men, a feeling of intense indignation 
sprang up in their minds against those slaves, for whom they 
once entertained only feelings of kindness. 

The quarrel between Johnson and Congress was a national 
calamity. The Provisional Governments in several of the late 
insurrectionary States, estabhshed under the Acts of Congress, 
with the evils that followed, and the sea of hate and malignant 
passion which swelled up, waiting for the da}- of vengence, would 
never have had an existence but for that quarrel. Except for 
it, too, the movement to impeach Mr. JohnsOTi, which still fur- 
ther intensified this ill-feeling, would not have been made. Above 
all, and far beyond all, it postponed indefinitely the da}' of 


genuine reconciliation, and left on the minds of the Southern peo- 
ple an almost unalterable conviction that they had been harshly 
treated by the National Government. It was most natural that 
the people of the South, urged on by the President of the United 
States, with a few Republicans and the whole Democratic party, 
of the North, should have felt as they had felt in the days of 
their ascendency before the War, strong, proud, and inde- 

In the early part of 186T, it became manifest to Congress 
that the ten Secession States would not ratify the Fourteenth 
Amendment. It became equally evident that the colored people 
would not have the right of the elective franchise conferred 
on them, and yet these States intended to claim the right of 
counting them in apportioning members of Congress and Presi- 
dential electors. The adoption of this amendment would have 
forced them either to confer upon the colored people the 
right of voting, or to submit to a diminished representa- 
tion. They sought to avoid both of these alternatives. This 
was probably one of the paramount obstacles in the way of 
ratification. They were unwilling to give up any of their 
power, and persistently refused either to do so or to enfran- 
chise the negro. 

Here then was presented the anomaly of States lately in 
insurrection against the Government, by their conduct, if not 
their words, claiming in the national Legislature and in the 
electoral colleges a larger representation than was allowed to 
an equal number of white men in the loyal States. It would 
seem that no one could have been found so unreasonable as to 
entertain such an idea as that above indicated. 

How wisely, or how unwisely. Congress dealt with this ques- 
tion of reconstruction, has been and will continue to be a source 
of controversy. It was, however, an unspeakable misfortune, 
which can never be sufficiently deplored, that it was necessary 
to deal with it at all. Out of it sprang, directly or indirectly, 
nearly all of the evils which the Southern people were afterward 
called on to endure. 

Maddened by the obstructive policy of Mr. Johnson, as well 
as by the defiant attitude of the ten insurrectionary States, 
Congress came together in December, 1866, in a mood very 
diflPerent from that which animated it a year before. With- 
out much delay or faltering there followed during the next 


fifteen months four Acts which formed the Congressional plan 
of reconstruction. Under and by virtue of these Acts, the gov- 
ernments organized under the proclamation of Mr. Johnson were 
swept out of existence, and the ten States were put under mili- 
tary rule, until new governments could be constructed accord- 
ing to the terms of the Acts. As rapidly as could be the 
States were reorganized, and passed into the hands of loyal 
men, the colored men being the decided majority in every State. 
This domination of a small minority of white men, with a 
large majority of colored men, continued until the ever swell- 
ing tide of popular indignation on the part of those who had 
been deprived of political rights rose so high, that it became 
resistless, and finally swept away forever what was known as 
"Carpet-Bag Government." 

It does not lie within the scope of this work to enter into a 
discussion of the working of these governments, nor the prac- 
tices which prevailed under them. INIuch less shall I undertake 
to defend them. It is sufficient to say, after making due allow- 
ance for exaggeration, that if one tithe of what has been said 
of these governments is true, they deserved demolition. It was 
these, with the antecedent and subsequent events accompanying 
them, that more than all things else, much more even than Avar 
itself, left a hatred in the minds and hearts of a majority of the 
Southern people which time alone can remove. This part of 
our national history is a sad one to contemplate. There can 
be but few genuine friends of our country who would not wish 
that the reconstruction measures had never been enacted ; that 
the necessity for these acts had never arisen. But for them 
the great uprising in the South in behalf of its constitutional 
rights, suddenly precipitating a whole nation into the most 
stupendous civil war recorded in the annals of time, might have 
passed into history as simply an outburst of passion on the 
part of an impulsive people, and the deeds of marvelous gal- 
lantry could have been claimed as a common inheritance of 
glory, by every citizen within the broad limits of both North 
and South, and the war would have left behind it the impression 
of merely a brilliant military pageant, with scarcely a trace 
of bitterness remaining. Great deeds on the battlefield, whether 
at Gettysburg, or at Chancellorsvillc, or Chicknmauga, and 
great Generals, whether Grant or Lee, Sherman or Johnston, 
Sheridan or Jackson, would have been proudly pointed to by 


all then as to-day, as American Generals and American deeds. 
Peace and fraternal love might soon have come to the hearts 
and homes of every good and patriotic citizen of the land. How 
splendid such an immediate ending of this deplorable contest! 
This happy era was dawning on the country in 1865, when Mr. 
Johnson commenced reviving the dissensions between the two 
sections. By his perverseness, and his arrogant defiance of 
those who had elevated him to power, on one side, and by the 
delusive hope of easier terms and entire deliverance excited 
by him on the other, he drove the two sections further and 
further apart, both at last maddened to the very verge of 
frenzy. Then followed that long and bitter contest between 
Mr, Johnson and the Republican party. For over three years 
this new contest raged nearly as furiously as did the question 
of independence during the Civil War. 

Finally Congress came to the conclusion that there was still 
one more measure necessary for the security of the country, 
and especially for the safety of the colored people. This was 
the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It is a singular 
fact that, at the close of the war, and for a good while after- 
ward, none of our public men or at least but a few of them, 
thought of conferring the right of suffrage indiscriminately on 
this race. In 1864 Mr. Lincoln, in a letter to Governor Hahn 
of Louisiana, cautiously and hesitatingly said: "I barely sug- 
gest for your private consideration whether some of the colored 
people may not be let in [as voters], as for instance the very 
intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in 
our ranks. They would probably help in some trying time in 
the future to keep the jewel of Liberty in the family." John- 
son, in some of his letters to his provisional Governors, in 1865, 
suggested that the elective franchise might be extended to all 
persons of color "who can read the Constitution of the United 
States and write their names, also to those who owned estates 
of not less than two hundred and fifty dollars, and pay taxes 
thereon." In 1864 Congress had passed an Act declaring the 
terms on which the insurrectionary States might be admitted 
to representation in Congress. One of these was that "involun- 
tary servitude shall be forever prohibited," but there was no 
provision that the right of suffrage, either partial or universal, 
should be conferred on the freedmen. The late Vice-President 
Wilson of Massachusetts, about that time, said "men might 


differ about the power or expediency of giving the right of 
suffrage to the negro." While the Fourteenth Amendment was 
in consideration in the Senate, Mr. Henderson proposed in the 
Senate an amendment to it which in effect provided for negro 
suffrage in all the States, but it received only ten votes. This 
was in the spring of 1866. In this same year Governor Mor- 
ton, the leader of the Republican party, in a message to the 
Legislature of Lidiana, strongly opposed negro suffrage. Gen- 
eral Jacob D. Cox, one of the best and coolest-headed men 
in the Republican party, as a candidate for Governor of Ohio, 
in 1866, took open and decided ground against conferring this 

Mr. Blaine says on this point: "The truth was that the 
Republicans of the North, constituting, as was shown by the 
elections of 1865, a majority in every State, were deeply con- 
cerned as to the fate and future of the colored population of 
the South. Only a minority of Republicans were ready to de- 
mand suffrage for those who had been recently emancipated, 
and who, from the ignorance peculiar to servitude, were pre- 
sumably unfit to be entrusted with the elective franchise. * * * 
The great mass of the Republicans stopped short of the de- 
mand for the conferment of suffrage on the negro. That 
privilege was indeed still denied him in a majority of the 
loyal States, and it seemed illogical and unwarrantable to ex- 
pect a more advanced philanthrophy, a higher sense of justice 
from the South than had been attained by the North."* 

In the great debate on reconstruction in the House of Repre- 
sentatives, which commenced in December, 1865 the longest 
in its history Thaddeus Stevens, the brilliant leader of the 
House, in opening the discussion did not insist on negro suffrage. 
"Mr. Stevens' obvious theory at that time," says Mr. Blaine,